One of the most sought- after quartets since its begin- nings in 1997, the SFGQ is comprised of distinguished musicians, including award- winning guitarist Mark Simons, Carnegie Hall debutant Patrick O’Connell, classical guitarist Jon Mendle and their newest and young- est member, Roberto Granados—who, at only 14 years old, is considered a “musical genius” by the other members.
Introduced by Faun Tiedge, department chair and professor of music, the quartet performed a variety of pieces representing different musical styles, while paying tribute to Oregon- based composers.
The quartet began the concert with a performance of “Marenje,” a soft, intricate piece that reflects African polyrhythms, composed by Ashland native, Mark Knippel.
The next local Oregon composer to be represented was Bryan Johanson, whose arrangement of “Toccata”
was performed. “We’ve recorded this on our third CD, ‘Silhouette,’” Simons said.
“Silhouette” is one of SFGQ’s highly praised albums, with “Black Opal,” “Chasing Light” and “Com- padres” completing the current collection.
The concert featured a song from each of the albums, with a performance of “Opals,” by Australian composer Phillip Houghton.
“This was one of the first pieces we recorded on our first CD in 2001,” Simons said.
Simons introduced “Opals” with a short description of the composer and his unique ability to hear colors—often referred to as sound-color synesthesia.
Mendel further described the intricacies Houghton’s synesthesia added to the physical performance of “Opals,” explaining that the arrangement called for specific strumming and plucking placement on the strings.
“Playing away from the center of the guitar makes a more metallic sound,” Mendel said.
After a performance of another arrangement by Houghton, the quartet presented “Black Diamonds,” and “Burning Moon, Frozen Sun,” which are original pieces by Granados.
The concert program said that there would be a performance of Andrew York’s “Pacific Coast High- way,” but the quartet made an impromptu decision to give Granados a solo performance of an original flamenco-style piece.
“We want to show off our newest member,” Simons said.
Joining Granados on stage for the performance
was his 8-year-old brother Ernesto, who accompanied him on the Cajón.
Granados explained that the instrument was a wooden box with guitar strings on the inside, that, when slapped on the front face of the box, a sound similar to that of a snare drum was produced.
To end the concert, the quartet performed “Mi Com- padre Nicolas,” a traditional arrangement and freedom fighting song that featured improvisations from each of the members.
After receiving a standing ovation, the quartet met with audience members and signed CDs that were available for purchase.
The performance was sponsored by WillaKenzie Estate.
For more information of The San Francisco Quartet, visit http://www.sfgq. com/.
Chrissy Shane can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo by Joel Ray/Senior photographer