I first wrote about The String Quartet Experience in May of 2014. At that time it was the title of a concert given at the Red Poppy Art House organized by Nahuel Bronzini, who had recently completed his guitar studies with David Tanenbaum at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). However, the concert was far more than a platform for a guitar recital, since Bronzini had been expanding his skill set to include not only composition but also recording production. Through that process he built up a rich understanding that included not only classical, jazz and pop repertoires but also the folk music of his native Argentina. The String Quartet Experience emerged through Bronzini’s efforts to rethink the full scope of these experiences and distill them down into original compositions for string quartet.
This project is now continuing with a new round of string quartet arrangements of music contributed by eight singers and songwriters from San Francisco, Boston, and Buenos Aires. The performers will be the members of the Amaranth String Quartet (violinists Katie von Braun and Abigail Shiman, violist Erica Zappia, and cellist Helen Newby). This group was formed at SFCM in 2013 when all of the members were students there. They are committed to innovative approaches to making music and exposing divergent communities to the results of their efforts. The participating singers and songwriters are Ayelen Seches, Camille Mai, Claudio Santomé, Diana Gameros, John Haesemeyer, Kendra McKinley, Mike Suarez, Tomás Latorre. Bronzini is also drawing upon his experiences in playing guitar with The View from Bernal Hill, a trio whose other members are Mai on piano and Schuyler Karr on bass.
Thus, what is emerging is an innovative approach to arrangement as an art form unto itself, bringing together the composers of the source material, the physical possibilities for the instruments of a string quartet, the expressive capacities of the players of those instruments, and, of course, the interpretative visions of the arranger, Bronzini himself. The objective is to capture all of this on a new CD. To fund this effort, Bronzini initiated a Kickstarter campaign. The goal is to raise $4000 by September 15. The Kickstarter Web page for the project provides a full proposal statement, summarizing the objectives and providing backgrounds for all of the participants. There is also the usual summary of rewards associated with different pledge levels. Most of those rewards are linked to completion of the project, which is currently estimated for this coming November. This is a relatively modest goal, which probably reflects the strong commitment of all participants to see this project through to completion; and it deserves serious consideration for seeking out an innovative path to new music-making practices.