Turtle Island Quartet
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ABOUT TURTLE ISLAND QUARTET
It's name derived from creation mythology found in Native American Folklore, the Turtle Island Quartet, since its inception in 1985, has been a singular force in the creation of bold, new trends in chamber music for strings. Cellist nonpareil Yo Yo Ma has proclaimed TIQ to be "a unified voice that truly breaks new ground—authentic and passionate—a reflection off some of the most creative music-making today." TIQ fuses the classical quartet esthetic with 20th century American popular styles, and by devising a performance practice that honors both, the state of the art has inevitably been redefined.
The Quartet's birth was the result of violinist David Balakrishnan's brainstorming exploration and compositional vision while writing his masters thesis at Antioch University West in 1983. The journey has taken TIQ through forays into Folk and Bluegrass styles, Swing Jazz, Be-Bop, Classical Indian forms, Funk and R&B, New Age, Rock and Hip-Hop, Bossa Nova and Salsa...a repertoire consisting of hundreds of ingenious arrangements and originals. The recipe also includes a blending of adventurous ingredients that creates completely new textures and forms. While losing none of the rhythmic force and groove structure that has always been the foundation of the group's "American Vernacular" style, TIQ also pays attention to its Euro-Classical roots.
Another unique element of TIQ is their revival of venerable improvisational and compositional chamber traditions that have not been explored by string players for nearly 200 years. At the time of Haydn's apocryphal creation of the string quartet form, musicians were more akin to today's saxophonists and keyboard masters of the Jazz and Pop world, e.g., improvisers, composers, and arrangers. Each Turtle Island member is accomplished in these areas of expertise, as well as having extensive conservatory training. As Turtle Island moves into the millennium and beyond, the dedication of TIQ to those areas grows and expands as never before.
One result of this dedication can be seen in TIQ's phenomenal international appeal, particularly in Europe where chamber music and sporting events seem to have achieved parity. What was once termed "alternative" chamber music now firmly inhabits the mainstream. TIQ members refine their skills through unusual and endemic "re-compositions" of works by the "old masters," through the development of repertory by some of today's cutting edge young composers, through performances and recordings with major symphonic ensembles, and through a determined educational commitment. Turtle Island Quartet promises to be a string quartet for the 21st century. Turtle Island Quartet made their Telarc debut with a collaboration with the Ying Quartet in February 2005 with the release of Four + 4. Their CD "A Love Supreme" is their follow-up album, based on John Coltrane's legendary and groundbreaking work.