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The 'Emergence' Of One Talented String Quartet

The Emergence Quartet. Four women. Lots of strings. And a deep serving of music history.

The Emergence Quartet (from L - R: Emily Dahl, Lisa Goddard, Emily Davidson and Zoe Kemmerling). (Courtesy Emergence Quartet)

The Emergence Quartet (from L – R: Emily Dahl, Lisa Goddard, Emily Davidson and Zoe Kemmerling). (Courtesy Emergence Quartet)

Music comes down to us like a tapestry we just keep weaving.  Look back from today’s hits, and you’ll find roots going in many directions – jazz and blues, bel canto and classical.  Pull the classical thread and you go back through Mozart and Haydn to Baroque and the roots of the string quartet.  To Fasch, and Richter and Telemann.  Weaving.  This hour On Point:  the four women of the Emergence Quartet, on the roots of the string quartet.

– Tom Ashbrook


The Emergence Quartet, Boston-based string quartet.

Emily Dahl, violinist.

Lisa Goddard, violinist.

Zoe Kemmerling, violist.

Emily Davidson, cellist. (@emilyplayscello)

From Tom’s Reading List

Boston Globe: Emergence explores the roots of the string quartet genre — “The Emergence Quartet is violinists Emily Dahl and Lisa Goddard, violist Zoe Kemmerling, and cellist Emily Davidson. The period-instrument group formed last fall, and gave its first performance earlier this year. It was the brainchild of Davidson, a Baroque cellist who was looking to form a chamber ensemble, and was surprised that there didn’t seem to be a regularly performing quartet in Boston’s thriving early-music scene.”

Historically Incorrect: Why Early Music? —  “How does one find something as obscure as ‘early music’? As a young, untrained cellist in grade school, I was exposed to classical music. Watered-down, bastardized, string-orchestra arrangements of classical music, but classical music nonetheless. And I liked it. I liked playing my cello. It was pretty simple.”

New York Times: At Home, A Dramatic Organist — “A well-remembered highlight of theBoston Early Music Festival a year agowas a Bach organ recital by John Scott. Mr. Scott, the organist and director of music at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York, is better known here for his work with the splendid St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys than as an organist.”

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  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Tom: Ask them if they’ve recorded the Debussy Gm String Quartet. It’s my favorite. Thanks. HLB

    Yes, I know: they’re into Baroque. Still, they could expand their range. Hope springs eternal.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Mozart is to Kanye what fine champagne is to grape Kool Aid.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    I also really like Early music – medieval and older. Sackbuts and shawms and viola da gamba, lutes and theorbos, etc.

    • http://www.emilyplayscello.com Emily Davidson

      Hi Neil,
      Emergence Quartet is a new group and we still have a lot in progress! We’ll be launching emergencequartet.com next week but you can like us on Facebook (facebook.com/emergencequartet) and hear samples on my YouTube and SoundCloud accounts (both @emilyplayscello). We just had three concerts around Boston but are planning things for the fall and beyond. Thanks for your support and keep in touch!

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Perhaps Tom will ask Lisa about her “An Evening with Henry Purcell.” Another favorite composer of mine. Perhaps she’ll take it on the road.

    * Edward Elgar was often referred to in his time {early 1900s} as the most important English composer since Purcell.

  • geraldfnord

    I’m claiming no direct connexion, but imitation and layering is fundamental to dixieland (and much other) jazz, and for that matter (like it or not) ‘jam band’ music. Establishing a melodic base and handing it around, then combining the results, seems a fruitful way of exploring what can be done with a simple tune.

    • blueshift

      As you point out, imitation is important to all music. The presenters are pointing out that baroque counterpoint is imitation spoken in a language all its own. Sometimes the fugal statements can be quite long and complex, adding to the compositional challenge (and if playing on a pipe organ, some significant performance challenges as well).

  • AC

    very soothing

  • homebuilding

    In the case that some are reading here, having discovered some appetite for the baroque, might I recommend the musical score of the 1975 movie: Barry Lyndon, a Stanley Kubrick film that won four academy awards.

    The sarabande (interpreted variously as slow dance or dance in triple meter) is, at one point, forcefully delivered, andante, by the tympani.

    While the music was a highlight for me, the costumes and the lush photography are an absolute treat. And, for the Hollywood addicts–there are plenty of things that go “Boom!” as well.

  • Mike Maginn

    How wonderful! Please give us some more resources so beginners in Baroque can learn more more more.

  • blueshift

    what a heavenly hour. the podcast of this in my soundcloud playlist is going to be set to ‘loop.’

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    A great pity Ashbrook’s employer can’t invest in a modern webstream server.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      I think it is showing its age? You can always contribute to WBUR (as I do), so they can keep things going! :-)

  • Kristine MacDermott Arena

    This was an excellent program–I hope to be hearing more of this group in the future !! Thanks for inviting them to play and talk about the music–it was extremely enlightening and they have a fantastic sound !!

  • Godzilla the Intellectual

    Are their menstrual cycles synchronized? That would be cool!

  • ncm

    I wish the podcast web page listed the musical pieces we heard. Though the composers are talked about, the specific pieces weren’t, and if one were to want to explore a piece further it is frustrating not to know its name.

    • http://www.emilyplayscello.com Emily Davidson

      Here are all the pieces we played:
      Telemann – Sonata a Violino I, Violino II, Viola e Violono

      in A major
      Fasch -

      Sonata a 2 violin, viola, e cembalo in d minor
      Richter – Quartetto II in B-flat major
      Haydn – Quartet no. 4 in G major, op. 1 no. 4

      Feel free to like us on Facebook at facebook.com/emergencequartet if you have any more questions!

      -Emily Davidson from EQ

      • ncm

        Thanks for the list. Yes, I noticed they are hard to find. I haven’t found a recording of the Fasch Sonata, for example, though lots of his other work is available.

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