Award-winning Boulder-based Altius Quartet is challenging the notion of what a string ensemble should be. While the group does incredible justice to pieces by Mozart, members also dive into the waters of pop, creating captivating renditions of A-ha’s “Take On Me” and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” not to mention visceral originals.
The group’s name derives from the Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” which is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger” and for anyone who’s had the pleasure of witnessing the quartet’s artistry live concur that there couldn’t be three other adjectives as fitting.
For the first time in more than seven months, Altius Quartet will perform live at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, in front of an audience, as part of the Dairy Arts Center’s Backporch Series. It will also be the first performance featuring new members Hannah Kennedy on violin and Allyson Stibbards on viola.
Tickets are $25 per person to the outdoor show, where a loading dock will be transformed into a stage and attendees can gather in the shaded parking lot, whose asphalt will have designated marked spots for social distancing. Concessions, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase with a credit card.
Chairs will be provided as needed, but the Dairy encourages attendees to bring their own for extended comfort.
We caught up with cellist Erin Patterson to find out what attendees can expect from the upcoming show, how she and fellow musicians have been keeping fans entertained during the pandemic and where else Altius Quartet plans to play.
Daily Camera: I can’t believe this is your first in-person show since March. How does it feel to know that you will soon be reunited with your fellow musicians performing in front of a live audience?
Erin Patterson: We couldn’t be more thrilled about our first live concert since March. This will actually be our first show for an audience with our new members Hannah (Kennedy) and Allyson (Stibbards). We have been fortunate enough to be able to rehearse and record a lot of content over the last couple of months. Most of our concerts have either been livestreams or online performances featuring pre-recorded content, but we have found that nothing quite replaces the energy of performing for and connecting with a live audience.
DC: Love that y’all did an online concert and gave half of the donations to free after-school music education program BoulderMUSE. How much did you raise and do you plan on using your artistry to raise funds for more organizations in need?
EP: We raised just over $600 for BoulderMUSE. It has been our mission since the beginning of COVID to dedicate a portion of the proceeds from each of our concerts to future projects or organizations we support. We hope to use our voice to make a difference for all people and audiences of classical music. Our next project features a collaboration with our friends the Ivalas Quartet and will bring awareness to the importance of voting. Donations will support the organization FairVote, a “nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans.”
DC: What can we expect from Sunday’s show? I’m curious what Beatles songs you plan to play.
EP: Since Altius was founded in 2011, it has been part of our mission to perform a wide variety of repertoire in hopes that everyone who comes to our concerts will leave having enjoyed something. We have stayed true to this over the last nine years. The program will include string quartet classics by Haydn and Mozart, paired with music by living composers such as Libby Larsen and Bruce Babcock, alongside some arrangements of popular tunes. Our friend Alex Vittal created a brilliant arrangement of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” medley — the B side of the “Abbey Road” album. We’ve enjoyed performing his arrangement for the last couple of years.
EP: Where else can fans catch Altius Quartet in the coming months? Any more socially distant shows that should be on our radar?
DC: Most of our upcoming shows will be presented online. Next up is our collaboration with the Ivalas Quartet on Oct. 18. We have a few more exciting engagements in the near future — a Nov. 1 livestream presented by our management, Great Lakes Performing Artists Associates, a partnership with Denver Friends of Chamber Music and a few local neighborhood concerts. We’ll be transitioning to indoor, socially-distanced house concerts when the weather changes. You can visit our website for more up to date information on our schedule.
DC: Lastly, what do you think 2021 will look like for the quartet? Are members offering online lessons to make ends meet?
EP: We all have bustling schedules involving online and in-person teaching, local gigs and of course our own quartet goings on. We have a few projects in the works — our own online concert series, a chamber music program for young musicians, and outreach programs to reach underserved communities. Most excitingly though, the quartet’s 10th anniversary is in 2021. We’re planning some surprises for our fans and you might see guest appearances from previous members of the quartet.