Published on October 6th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Renowned Brooklyn, NY-based string quartet provides ‘master class’ for Irmo High students

Brooklyn Rider Cellist Eric Jacobsen (far right) joins in on a music session with Irmo High School students during the group’s visit. 

IRMO – A Brooklyn, NY-based string quartet, known for its unique interpretations on classical pieces, visited Irmo High School Sept. 25 to offer a master class to music students.

Brooklyn Rider performed such selections like Gonzalo Grau’s “Five-Legged Cat” for orchestra members at the school and gave one-on-one pointers during the 90-minute session. The group also performed for high school groups during a Friday, Sept. 26 morning performance at Midlands Technical College’s Harbison Theatre before appearing Friday night in Southern Exposure, a University of South Carolina music series exploring contemporary classical and world music. Irmo High School launched its new International High School for the Arts this school year.

“Part of our goal with the arts magnet is for students to get professional training and to get classes like this with professional musicians and actors,” said Irmo High School Principal David Riegel. “It’s something that we’re actively seeking as much as possible to try to make sure that students are connected in a professional setting and have an understanding of what it takes to be professional artists, if that’s their interest.”

Last year, the school collaborated with Second City acting troupe, Brian Sanders’ Junk performers and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to provide students with lessons. On Sept. 25, Brooklyn Rider’s master class included corrections and new and unique musical techniques, like stomping out musical beats on the floor and blowing air through a violin’s opening to alter a note.

“I thought it was really nice for them to come to the school. I learned a lot from their techniques, some which were really weird but fun at the same time,” said Irmo High School junior Gavin Clark.

In its 10th anniversary as a group, Brooklyn Rider includes violinists Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobsen, violist Nicholas Cards and cellist Eric Jacobsen. It has been categorized by a Pittsburgh publication as “four classical musicians performing with the energy of young rock stars jamming on their guitars.” The group was featured by NPR and made debuts in 2011 at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

In addition to traveling to perform, the group also enjoys teaching to music students and promoting music education, Eric Jacobsen said.

“We want the students to know that music is fun and beautiful and everyone can enjoy it,” he said. “We travel around the country promoting music and music education because we want people to know that music is always going to be here, and it needs as many heroes and champions as possible to help make that happen.”

The visit to Irmo High School was made possible through a sponsorship by Colonial Life and an ongoing partnership with Harbison Theatre, which also provides theater workshops for students through the South Carolina Arts Commission.

Harbison Theatre Executive Director Katie Fox said, “We’re really excited by the visit by Brooklyn Rider. We’ve brought theater performers and choreographers, but we had yet to bring musicians to do master classes with your students. So, this was part of a long awaited opportunity to work with Irmo High School band and orchestra students.”


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