A Q Year in Review

Well, after a somewhat quiet spell, Q is currently preparing for a very busy winter and spring, starting with our debut on the (Un)Familiar Music Series at the Empty Bottle this February! We’re in a very different place, musically, organizationally, and personally than we were last year at this time. And while we’ve certainly had some big obstacles to get past, we’re feeling great about how far we’ve come. As Aimee likes to joke, our tag line should really be: “Chicago Q Ensemble: rolling with the punches.” And actually, I have to say, looking back, we’ve gotten so much accomplished this year that I think I’ll have to replace that tagline with “embracing the punches and turning them into high fives.” Seriously. This quartet doesn’t just make the best of a difficult situation, we seem to thrive in it.

So since we’re all wishing each other a Happy 2013 and reflecting on 2012, I thought this would be a great time to review some of our big successes of the past year.

I’ll start with last winter….when we made not one, but TWO CDs! We recorded the string quartets of Amy Wurtz the fall before, but didn’t release the CD until 2012. And we also recorded the music of FJORDS by Kyle Vegter. What’s that, you say? You want to know where you can purchase these CDs? So glad you asked! Right this way...

Come February and March, we joined forces with Manual Cinema to put on FJORDS at the Poetry Foundation, our poetry/new music/shadow puppetry collaboration extravaganza of the year! The show got great reviews in Gapers Block and the Chicago Reader, and the experience was incredible as we got to know and learn from the folks at Manual Cinema, Stephanie Hlywak from Poetry Foundation, andZachary Schomburg, the man behind the Fjords poems.

April and May were when Aimee’s shoulder first started acting out, and it eventually became clear that we were going to need to find another violist to join us for our upcoming trip to St. Louis for the Gesher Music Festival. Even though Dominic warned us that he was, in fact, not female, we took a chance and brought him on board the Q train. That marked the beginning of a warm and inspiring musical relationship, and our performances of the Shostakovich fourth quartet in St. Louis were received with standing ovations over a week’s worth of performances.

After a summer break where we each did our own galavanting about, August brought about a still injured Aimee. As we scrambled to figure out what to do, we were lucky enough to collaborate with several fabulous violists, including a memorable performance with Bridget Callahan at the Thirsty Ear Festival. Ellen, Kate and I also performed trios at the Music Institute of Chicago and at High Concept Laboratories, and topped off the fall with a reprise of Shosty 4 with Dominic at the Chicago Cultural Center.

In the meantime, while Aimee wasn’t able to play viola, that made it a prime time for thinking up big ideas as a quartet and also working on our administrative branch. We were granted a residency from High Concept Labs to work with the City of Chicago in creating a community arts partnership throughout various neighborhoods around the city, which we have been planning and which will begin this coming spring. We’ve also been organizing all of our accounting, with the help of accountant-composer-genius-extraordinaire Kyle Vegter, and we’ve sent off our application to the IRS for official nonprofit status! We’re also in the process of forming a board of directors and plan on having our first board meeting in January!

We often liken the challenges of being in a string quartet to balancing on a Tilt-A-Whirl: when one member is starting to tilt backwards, it’s the weight of the other 3 that keeps her from falling. Well, 2012 brought us plenty of exercise on our Q-Tilt-A-Whirl, and as we enter 2013, I think that all of us would agree that we have grown stronger as a quartet and as an organization. We have strengthened our relationships with each other, we have grown musically, we have built ties to our community, and we have grown as a business. If we can accomplish this much when times are tough, just think what we will conquer when no punches are being thrown. We look forward to seeing you all February 13th at the Empty Bottle. BRING IT, 2013!!