The mission of keeping a rare musical flame alight is a noble and often challenging one, but The Bohemian Quartet is more than up to the task. In this case, the acclaimed Providence, Rhode Island-based ensemble-featuring violin, viola, cello, and bass-specializes in music of the Romany or “Gypsy” tradition, along with related Eastern European folk styles.
The Bohemian Quartet was formed in 2005. Violinist, Stan Renard, a composer and virtuoso player with an impressive list of credentials, assembled the group with the idea of preserving the tradition and indulging in the virtuosic playing of classic gypsy music. Renard recruited like-minded friends: Dave Zinno on upright bass, Christine Harrington on cello, and Nancy Richardson on viola. Together they’ve made a commitment to the genre, and aspired to performing it with both reverence and adventure.
Indeed, like every good curator, the BQ at once embraces the ancient traditions, and still wanders off in newer, lovely, unpredictable directions. The Bohemian Quartet borrowed its name from a quartet formed over 100 years ago in Czechoslovakia. That group, later called the Czech Quartet, ultimately disbanded in 1934. Appropriately enough, the two entities-BQ-v.1 and today’s iteration share much more than a name. They shoulder a passion for the deep-rooted authenticity of the Romany tradition, as well as the ability to play that historic repertoire with extraordinary joi de vivre.
On the aptly titled “Beyond Tradition”, the quartet’s newest recording, the group’s intentions are true and accomplished. The project was recorded live at the lovely Blackstone River Theatre, in Cumberland, RI, and St. Paul’s Church in Portsmouth, RI (home of the Portsmouth arts Guild). Produced by Harrington and the quartet, the recording is a journey through musical vernacular of gypsy life, with fast tempos, virtuosic playing, spry strings crying and dancing, and above all the flair of performance that makes this sound so utterly riveting.
Accolades have followed the quartet since its inception. The quartet was featured on the “One World Show” produced by Robert Malin, which received an award for Best Music Documentary. “Beyond Tradition” also enjoyed three separate 2010 ballot placements by the Grammy Association.
- Sweet Rakia (Trad. Bulgarian)
- Hungarian Suite Romanian Suite
- Sirba/Briul/Geamparele(Trad. Rom.)
- Kaylan Raga (Trad. Indian)
- Horses of the Troika (Trad. Russian)
- BihariVerbunkos(Janos Bihari)
- GrozdankaiBogdanVoivoda/ Koichovoto Horo(Trad. Bulgarian)
- Tribal Dances (Trad. Romanian)
- Hungarian Dance #5 (Brahms)
- Hora Staccato (Dinicu)
- Scene of the Csarda “Waves of the Balton” (Hubay)
- Hungarian Dance #1 (Brahms)
- Hora Martisorlui (Dinicu)
- Hungarian Dance #3 (Brahms)
- Scene of the Csarda “Hejre Kati” (Hubay)
- Lark (Dinicu)