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Working a sort of classical crossover groove with intervals of jazz improvisation somewhat in the vein of the Turtle Island String Quartet, Quartet San Francisco (based, obviously, in the San Francisco bay area) incorporates a high degree of Latin influences into its sound. The quartet first performed together in 2001 and released a debut album, Quartet San Francisco, a year later, using a lineup of violinists Jeremy Cohen and James Shallenberger, violist Emily Onderdonk, cellist Joel Cohen, and bassist James Kerwin. By the group's second album, 2006's Latigo, the membership had stabilized with Kayo Miki replacing Shallenberger on second violin and the group no longer using a bassist (John Santos adds occasional percussion on the album).
Quartet San Francisco is a non-traditional and eclectic string quartet led by violinist Jeremy Cohen. The group played their first concert in 2001 and has recorded four albums. Playing a wide range of music genres from jazz to blues, tango to swing, and funk to pop, the group challenges the traditional classical music foundation of the string quartet.
Quartet San Francisco won a tango music competition in New York in 2004, and their albums have been nominated five times for Grammy Awards: three in the Best Classical Crossover Album category, and two for Best Engineered Album, Classical.Cohen, Jeremy. "About the Quartet". Quartet San Francisco. Retrieved February 22, 2010. Jeffrey, James. "Quartet San Francisco Wins International Tango Competition: Prize Includes Concerts in Argentina and New York". Jeffrey James Arts Consulting. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Cite error: The named reference Yoshis was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
Quartet leader and violinist Jeremy Cohen founded the Quartet San Francisco as a forum to explore a multitude of musical styles that were important to him but were not being exercised in his work with other ensembles such as Turtle Island Quartet. Oakland-born-and-bred Cohen produces the quartet's albums on his own label, Violin Jazz. Classically trained under Itzhak Perlman and Anne Crowden, Cohen's playing style shows influences from violinists Fritz Kreisler, Joe Venuti and Eddie South.
Alisa Rose joined Quartet San Francisco in 2009. Hailing from Wisconsin, she has played in numerous bluegrass groups and at festivals such as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco and the Strawberry Music Festival in Yosemite. As a music educator, she is the director of a San Francisco Conservatory of Music program at a city elementary school, and has written an instructional book aimed at music students aged seven to ten years old.
Keith Lawrence, member since March 2008, began learning viola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the age of 11, then sought undergraduate study at Oberlin Conservatory, taking instruction from Peter Slowik and Roger Chase. He attended the Henry Mancini Institute three years during his time at Oberlin. Until 2007, Lawrence undertook graduate studies at the DePaul University School of Music as a student of Rami Solomonow.
Michelle Djokic, cellist for the quartet, was a founder of Concordia Chamber Players in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2004. She served as assistant principal cellist of the San Francisco Symphony for two seasons. She joined the New Century Chamber Orchestra in 2008. She has appeared on stage and in the studio many times as a cello soloist, including Carnegie Hall with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and as accompanist to violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Djokic married professional squash athlete Mark Talbott in May 1989 after the two met aboard an airliner, on which Djokic was flying with her 1686 Francesco Gofriller cello, which has its own frequent flier account with US Airways.
Joel Cohen, Jeremy Cohen's brother, played cello in the group from its inception to the recording of Whirled Chamber Music in 2007 and further into 2008. Cohen served as co-principal cellist with the Oakland East Bay Symphony from 1979 to 1985, after which he lived in Vienna to perform as principal cellist of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. Cohen moved to the Boston area in 1997 and has been involved in various orchestras and chamber music groups including the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is a member of the faculty of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Emily Onderdonk, a San Francisco native, played viola in the group from it first recording in 2002 to early 2008. Onderdonk studied at Manhattan School of Music, earning her Bachelor's and Master's degrees, after which she enrolled in post-graduate studies at Boston University and the New England Conservatory of Music. She has served as principal violinist for the New York City Opera National Company, the Santa Fe Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opéra National de Lyon touring Europe, and the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra.
Kayo Miki helped Quartet San Francisco win the Grand Prize at a tango music competition in May 2004, held at the auditorium of the Consulate General of Argentina in New York City. The prize included a trip to Buenos Aires where the quartet performed at Cafe Tortoni and other classic tango dance venues. Born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Miki studied violin at the Hochschule Mozarteum in Salzburg and she earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Eastman School of Music.
Dawn Harms, a cousin of musician Tom Waits, played violin in the group from 2002 until 2004. Harms has collaborated with a number of ensembles, including ten years as first violinist of the Harrington String Quartet, and five years with the Santa Fe Opera. She is co-concertmaster of the Oakland East Bay Symphony, and concertmaster with the Santa Fe Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra. She is on the faculty of the Music Department at Stanford University.
James "Jim" Shallenberger, a founding member of the Kronos Quartet, played violin on the 2002 recording Quartet San Francisco. Shallenberger is a member of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera and Ballet Orchestras, and is one of the extended faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.Jeremy Cohen, violin. Biographies, Quartet San Francisco. Accessed on February 12, 2010. Alisa Rose, violin. Biographies, Quartet San Francisco. Accessed on February 12, 2010. Cohen, Jeremy. "Biographies". Quartet San Francisco. Violin Jazz. Archived from the original on 2008-03-12. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Keith Lawrence, viola. Biographies, Quartet San Francisco. Accessed on February 12, 2010. Michelle Djokic, cello. Biographies, Quartet San Francisco. Accessed on February 12, 2010. Lidz, Franz (May 14, 1990). "Team Talbott: A Duo Always In Concert". Sports Illustrated 72 (20). Cohen, Jeremy. "Whirled Chamber Music track notes". Quartet San Francisco. Violin Jazz. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Cohen, Jeremy. "Joel Cohen, cello". Quartet San Francisco. Violin Jazz. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Cohen, Jeremy. "Biographies". Quartet San Francisco. Violin Jazz. Archived from the original on 2002-12-08. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Cohen, Jeremy. "Biographies". Quartet San Francisco. Violin Jazz. Archived from the original on 2008-01-15. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Cohen, Jeremy. "Joel Cohen, cello". Quartet San Francisco. Violin Jazz. Archived from the original on 2007-08-06. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Cite error: The named reference NYTango was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cohen, Jeremy. "Kayo Miki, violin". Quartet San Francisco. Violin Jazz. Archived from the original on 2004-06-08. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Cohen, Jeremy. "Meet the Musicians". Quartet San Francisco. Violin Jazz. Archived from the original on 2004-04-11. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Cohen, Jeremy. "Dawn Harms, violin". Quartet San Francisco. Violin Jazz. Archived from the original on 2005-03-06. Retrieved February 12, 2010. James Shallenberger, violin. San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Preparatory and Extension Faculty. Jim Shallenberger. Crowden Center for Music in the Community.
QSF Plays Brubeck was released in 2009, and became the group's third consecutive nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album. The Dave Brubeck-inspired recording was also nominated for Best Engineered Album, Classical, honoring Judy Kirschner who recorded and mastered the album at Skywalker Sound. The album is the first all-Brubeck string quartet recording.
The group released Whirled Chamber Music as a "mixture of American genres – blues, funk, jazz, tango, and rock." Among the 18 tunes are 7 composed by Raymond Scott. The album was recorded June 12–15, 2007 at Skywalker Sound with veteran audio engineer Leslie Ann Jones. Whirled Chamber Music was nominated for Best Classical Crossover Album.
Látigo, their 2006 CD which featured a number of tangos and Latin-inspired compositions, was nominated for Best Classical Crossover Album and Best Engineered Album, Classical. It was recorded August 22–24, 2005 at Skywalker Sound, with Jones as audio engineer, Kirschner as mixing engineer, and Bernie Grundman as mastering engineer.
Quartet San Francisco, the group's initial self-titled album, debuted in 2002. Cohen was joined by James Shallenberger on violin, Emily Onderdonk on viola, Joel Cohen on cello, and three tracks included James Kerwin on bass violin. Cohen included compositions by Scott and Brubeck, four Argentine tangos, and selections by Henry Mancini and Stevie Wonder."KDFC presents Quartet San Francisco Plays Brubeck." Yoshi's Jazz Club, San Francisco, January 25, 2010. Accessed February 12, 2010. Whirled Chamber Music. Violin Jazz. Accessed on February 12, 2010. Whirled Chamber Music Credits. Recordings. Quartet San Francisco. Accessed on February 12, 2010. Látigo. Violin Jazz. Accessed on February 12, 2010. Quartet San Francisco. Violin Jazz. Accessed on February 12, 2010. Quartet San Francisco. Recordings. Quartet San Francisco. Accessed on February 12, 2010.