Turtle Island Quartet will showcase its unique musical style to Sac State audience on Wednesday
By Alex Grotewohl
Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The Turtle Island Quartet was born of a vision. Take a traditional classical music genre and blend it with the works of some of the greatest artists of the 20th century. A quarter century of style-bending later, the group will perform at Sacramento State Wednesday night.
Mark Summer, who has played cello for the group since its inception, said no one else on the classical music scene has been able to do what Turtle Island has done. Founder and lead violinist David Balakrishnan set out to assemble musicians who were as familiar with jazz compositions as with the classical string quartet. The result is a mix of sounds some critics have called the future of classical music.
Summer said Turtle Island has more of a group-based style, as opposed to the more individualistic tendency of previous string quartets.
“It is a toe-tapping experience,” he said. “And that is a big difference between a traditional classical and Turtle Island concert.”
The group is currently touring in support of their newest album, a tribute to the work of Jimi Hendrix. Like so much else they do, Summer said, the idea for this newest work came to Balakrishnan as if through divine intervention while touring a museum at the site of the original Woodstock Festival.
“We were watching a film of Jimi (Hendrix) playing at Woodstock, and a light bulb just went off over (Balakrishnan.)”
Summer said the show Wednesday will feature a four-movement suite of Hendrix-inspired music mixed with original work by Balakrishnan. They will also play the jazz material for which they are so well known.
Whatever musical style an audience prefers, Summers insists they will be able to find something they like in Turtle Island.
“That is what we live for – bringing those groups together,” he said.
Alex Grotewohl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org