The Friction Quartet is in the Live Music Capital to stir up some of their namesake.
Since forming in 2011, the San Francisco-based Friction Quartet has sought to expand the string quartet repertoire and audience for adventurous contemporary music. Friction has given 28 “terribly beautiful” and “chillingly effective” world premiere performances and commissioned 30 works for string quartet. While Friction has garnered national attention as commissioners and interpreters of new music, they are also devoted to performing masterworks of the string quartet repertoire at the highest level. This month Friction will juxtapose Beethoven’s “Serioso” quartet with recompositions of Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Skrillex as part of their residency with the Central Texas Orchestral Society.
Friction Quartet’s dedication to building new audiences for contemporary music has them investing in a younger generation of listeners. In collaboration with composer Danny Clay, Friction realized a graphic score that Clay created using drawings that a third grade class made after listening to Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge. Friction works with an after-school program called “Little Opera” that guides elementary school students through the process of creating an opera. They workshop graphic scores that the students create and present excerpts of old and new string quartets. Friction Quartet takes risks to enlarge the audience’s understanding of what a string quartet can be, through the use of digital sound processing, percussion, amplification, movement and by combining music with other media such as dance and film. But they never lose sight of the quartet’s essence—the endlessly nuanced interaction of four analog voices, even when those voices are used to channel real and produce faux digital sounds.
– Jack Anderson