The Turtle Island Quartet brings back their Grammy-winning program A Love Supreme

Tutle Island String Quartet

The ensemble salutes John Coltrane & more at Oklahoma State University’s Seretean Center Concert Hall on March 7, 2017.

Classical and jazz innovators Turtle Island Quartet perform from their iconic Grammy®-winning program A Love Supreme, the music of John Coltrane, at Seretean Center Concert Hall at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 8pmVisit tickets.okstate.edu or call 405-744-7509 for more information.

The Turtle Island Quartet – violinists David Balakrishnan and Alex Hargreaves, cellist Malcolm Parson, and violist Benjamin von Gutzeit – bring their interpretations of music written and inspired by the 20th century jazz master to life for the first time together. The quartet in previous iterations has toured their inventive and enlightening program around the country with celebrated performances at universities and performing arts centers including Stanford, Florida State, Austin Chamber Music Center, Merkin Concert Hall, and the SFJAZZ Miner Auditorium in a double bill with Ravi Coltrane.

The ensemble’s recording of the program, A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane, was released to great critical acclaim.  The album won a GRAMMY® for Best Classical Crossover Album in 2008.

At the centerpiece of the program – an undertaking that has been an exhilarating challenge for the quartet – is their interpretation of Coltrane’s four-part masterpiece, the 32-minute suite “A Love Supreme.” This jazz epiphany was recorded by Coltrane in 1964, at a time when the country was deeply troubled by issues of race and war. As a personal statement of redemption and salvation that struck a chord in the heart of millions, it became one of the most enduring jazz recordings of all time. Balakrishnan’s ingenious arrangement weaves portions of Coltrane’s improvisation into the opening section, then later clears space for Turtle Island’s impassioned soloists.

“The experience of playing our Love Supreme Coltrane program for such a diverse range of people – from classical music lovers newly discovering Coltrane’s genius, to jazz professionals who regard the masterpiece with a deep and formidable reverence, to fans who just love good music – has affected us in no small way,” says Balakrishnan. “It has been so gratifying to have tapped such a vast reservoir of enthusiasm and support!”

Not limited to just their interpretation of the title work itself, A Love Supreme also features a wide range of other pieces written by jazz giants such as Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Lee Konitz, as well as selections from David Balakrishnan’s latest work, Aeroelasticity: Harmonies Of Impermanence.

Coltrane’s music – created primarily with saxophone, piano, bass and drums – poses particular challenges to a quartet comprised of two violins, a viola and a cello. But, says veteran jazz critic and historian Bob Blumenthal in his liner notes to A Love Supreme, “Turtle Island has met these challenges in the past through seamless blends of improvisation, transcription and original orchestration,” all techniques which are brought into play in the present program.

Of the A Love Supreme recording, the Los Angeles Times noted, “The Turtle Islanders’ take is unique. Balakrishnan’s thoughtful arrangement recalled passages from Coltrane’s original solos while creating lush textures and whirlwind rhythms underscoring both the musical and the spiritual complexities of the original composition.”

The Turtle Island Quartet has been defying genres and breaking boundaries for more than two decades themselves, “and has shown an ability to function with equal conviction in the classical and jazz realms unmatched by any other contemporary ensemble,” says Blumenthal. “This is only fitting for players who learned to swing and to improvise as they were learning their instruments.”

About Turtle Island Quartet

Its name derived from creation mythology found in Native American Folklore, the Turtle Island Quartet, since its inception in 1985, has been a singular force in the creation of bold, new trends in chamber music for strings. Winner of the 2006 and 2008 GRAMMY® Awards for Best Classical Crossover category, Turtle Island fuses the classical quartet esthetic with contemporary American musical styles, and by devising a performance practice that honors both, the state of the art has inevitably been redefined. Cellist nonpareil Yo-Yo Ma has proclaimed TIQ to be “a unified voice that truly breaks new ground – authentic and passionate – a reflection of some of the most creative music-making today.”

The Quartet’s birth was the result of violinist David Balakrishnan’s brainstorming explorations and compositional vision while writing his master’s thesis at Antioch University West. The journey has taken Turtle Island through forays into folk, bluegrass, swing, be-bop, funk, R&B, new age, rock, hip-hop, as well as music of Latin America and India …a repertoire consisting of hundreds of ingenious arrangements and originals.

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