Artist Interview: Borromeo Quartet

By jwoods on December 14, 2011

For our fifth artist interview of the season, Borromeo Quartet violinist Nicholas Kitchen was gracious enough to sit down and answer a few questions about the group's December 18th program at the Curtis Institute. Here are his answers. I hope they help to illuminate the artists behind the music, and that learning a bit more about this program inspires you to attend the performance.

Juliet Woods:  Your program features the East Coast premiere of Curt Cacioppo’s Kinaalda: the Rite of Changing Woman. What is it like to introduce a new piece like this to an audience?

Nicholas Kitchen of the Borromeo Quartet

Borromeo Quartet (Nicholas Kitchen at left)

Nicholas Kitchen:  Introducing new music is exciting. You know that the audience is starting with very few pre-conceived notions about what they are going to hear. This is dangerous in that they may feel disoriented and then they will not enjoy the experience, but what is very exciting is to try to bring them into the narrative of the piece with enough energy that they actually turn from disorientation to discovery. If this threshold is crossed, then the audience is actually VERY excited at their new experience and in sharing the achievement of taking in the unfamilar. Of course, how this goes depends on what the composer has given us. In the case of Curt’s piece, he has created a piece with rich harmonically resonant sections as well as an extremely varied and lively rhythmic environment. Further, he has been inspired by a larger mythology, and this does provide a backdrop for the impact of the ideas. It will be exciting, I think, for people to discover the world he has created and we will enjoy bringing our imagination and our playing to bear in opening the riches of this piece.

JW:  Cacioppo wrote this piece for the Borromeo. What was it like working with Curt?

NK:  Curt had a very deep inspiration during his exposure to the music of the Navajo. This feeds the inspiration of the piece and his treasuring of this material communicates strongly to us. In a rehearsal, players are shaping the details -- sharper accent, more sustained, different balance, more slowing down, different tempo. What will make the difference in the end is the content that these details illuminate. In the case of working with Curt, there is a strong sense of what the aspirations of this piece are and how sincere what is offered is. We got a strong sense of all of this from Curt, and since he is an experienced pianist (I met him by our playing all of the Beethoven Piano/Violin Sonatas together), he can speak to us and give very specific suggestions.

The Borromeo Quartet appears Sunday, December 18th at 3 pm at the Curtis Institute. For tickets and information, visit the concert page or call 215-569-8080.