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Great Danes

Great Danes. I know nothing at all about animals of the canine persuasion, absolutely nothing. But I met some Great Danes Sunday afternoon. Three of them, in fact, along with one Norwegian (just to provide variety, I guess), and they were Great! If you were at the SA Chamber Music concert last Sunday – and about 300 of you were – you heard something you would never have expected to hear from Great Danes!
If you were at the SA Chamber Music concert last Sunday – and about 300 of you were – you heard something you would never have expected to hear from Great Danes!

To be more precise, these particular Great Danes made up the Danish String Quartet and I have to admit, humbly, that the music they performed was unfamiliar to me; this is a situation I will remedy. I don’t think I’ve ever heard glissandos performed in perfect time and harmony by four stringed instruments, or syncopations so precisely measured. And that was just the first selection, “Swans Kissing.” The Shostakovich was, as promised, dark and a little scary in parts, but I was thinking about the era and surroundings in which it was written. The Great Danes — beg pardon: the Danish String Quartet — took us back to a tragic era in history when a composer could be hauled away to no-man’s land for expressing his feelings and talent. It was a dark time indeed.

But the Quartet livened up the program after intermission with a delightful selection of Scandinavian folk music. They practically danced through the joyful jigs and polkas of the not-so-frozen north. Did the music sound a little like the hornpipes and bagpipes of Denmark’s neighbors to you? I thought so and fully expected someone to break into a reel. Oh well, we know Great Danes don’t dance. Or do they?

I hope you’re looking forward to enjoying the music of a different part of the world at the November 20th concert. Brazil, Cuba, Spain, Italy, France: all with wonderful musical traditions and interpreted by a pair of world-class classical guitarists, the Brasil Guitar Duo.

Meanwhile, think about the remarkable program you’ve just heard and the four young, globe-trotting virtuosos who performed it. They may call themselves the Danish String Quartet, but I will think of them as the Great Danes.

– E Doyle

After Concert Dinner at Paesanos

Danish String Quartet

Coming to San Antonio on October 23, 2016

“Here’s a simpler story of the quartet:
 We are three Danes and one Norwegian cellist, making this a truly Scandinavian endeavor. We are often joking about ourselves being modern Vikings – perhaps a touch more harmless than our ancestors – we are not pillaging cities or razing the English coastline!

The three of us met very early in our lives in the Danish countryside at a summer camp for enthusiastic amateur musicians. Not yet teenagers, we were the youngest players, so we hung out all the time playing football and chamber music together. During the regular school year we would get together often to play music and just have fun. We became best friends. In 2001, professor Tim Frederiksen of The Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen got in touch with us and started coaching us on a regular basis. All of the sudden, at the ages of 15 and 16, we were a serious string quartet. It all happened so fast that none of us seemed to notice the transition.

“Among all the dauntingly good young string quartets currently doing the rounds, the Danish String Quartet stands out: not because they’re shinier or plusher or pushier than the rest, but because of their nimble charisma, stylish repertoire and the way their light and grainy shading can turn on a dime.” Kate Molleson

The Guardian

Time passed and we grew up. We were enrolled at The Royal Academy of Music and our life as music students had begun. None of us have any memory of our lives without the string quartet. In 2008 Norwegian cellist Fredrik joined in. We found him hidden away in a castle outside Stockholm. During his free time, Fredrik can be found fixing or sailing his sailboat somewhere in Scandinavia.
The rest of us spend time with different hobbies – old cars, cooking, gaming, reading, playing, talking, and drinking. Yes, playing string quartets is our job, and yes it is hard work, but we mostly do it for pleasure, like we always did.
There is so much amazing music to delve into, and our hope is to continue our travels through life and music together as a quartet. And if all goes well, around 2060 we will beat the world record for longest running string quartet. On that day we will host a giant feast – you shall all be invited!”

Rune, Asbjørn, Fredrik and Frederik


Asbjørn Nørgaard (viola)
Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (violin)
Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin  (cello)
Frederik Øland (violin)


Swans Kissing

Quartet No.15


Folk music from the Nordic countries


Temple Beth-El
Address: 211 Belknap Place
Time: 3:15 PM

Join Us For A Spectacular 74th Season!

SACMS continues to bring to San Antonio world-class chamber music season after season for your enjoyment. Our 74rd Season opens October 23, 2016, and we cannot wait for you to join us for five amazing performances that are sure to delight and enthrall! Get your tickets now, and skip the lines at the door on concert day.

Danish String Quartet

October 23, 2016

Brasil Guitar Duo

November 20, 2016

Aeolus Quartet

January 22, 2017

Les Amies Trio

February 26, 2017

Calmus Ensemble

April 23, 2017

Buy a Season Subscription and get bonus tickets!

Plus, tickets are interchangeable.
That’s right, Season Subscription tickets are good for any SACMS concert!


Hey! It’s an election year! Aren’t you just all aquiver with excitement??! Just imagine: months of our elected and wanna-be elected officials blathering on about issues they actually understand but little, nevertheless expounding wonderful (awesome?) solutions to every problem the nation faces. Just imagine!

But if you prefer not to imagine, I have some escape suggestions. To begin with, surely your TV has a “mute” button on it somewhere; use it! When it’s announced that so-and-so is giving an exclusive interview on a major channel, check out what’s on the Food Network. A little vicarious dessert will not expand your waistline nor affect your cardiac function and might even help you retain any vestige of sanity you may have left.

If you find yourself at a gathering, be it Sunday school, a cocktail party or a dinner, and someone says something like, “Can you believe that [fill in the blank}?!  [He/She] said that….”  Well, you get the picture.  After you’ve politely said, “How interesting,” you say, “And did you see that column by Martha Stewart on drying flowers?  Such a talented person.”  At that point your companion’s eyes should begin to glaze and you can continue to a more reasonable topic or just quietly slip away.

Things are a little trickier if The Other happens to be your spouse – but still not impossible.  There’s always the time-honored and always useful, “Huh?  Did you say something?”  And if there’s persistence (as there often is when couples have been together for more than two years), you might try, “Were you talking about the dishwasher?  It is making a funny noise, and I wish you’d have a look at it.  I guess we could just call the appliance repairman.”  I can almost guarantee that statement will change the conversation.

And last but not least, there are those really tricky situations when you find yourself trapped in an elevator or a carpool or across a bridge table, and there’s just no getting away from the venom.  That’s when, with tremendous self-restraint, you just nod your head – just like you’re hanging on every bead and drop – and send your mind off to some other more pleasant place.  With luck, the speaker will be so frothed about his/her subject, he/she won’t ask, “Don’t you agree?”

…we were all taught never, never, never to discuss religion or politics, right?  But some folks just can’t help themselves…

Of course, we were all taught never, never, never to discuss religion or politics, right?  But some folks just can’t help themselves and I hope the foregoing will help you avoid the pitfalls.  If not, and you find yourself unable to extricate yourself gracefully, try this:

“By the way, I’ve got a couple of extra tickets to the next San Antonio Chamber Music Concert.  Wouldn’t you like to hear beautiful music for a change?” Might work. Try it.

– E Doyle

Gracias, señor Polo

Muchas gracias, Marco Polo!!!  (Does that count as a mixed metaphor?)  If the great explorer had never made it to China, would we have had to wait a few more centuries to learn about the incredible tradition of Chinese music – or firecrackers, or paper, or gunpowder, for that matter?  But let’s just stick to the music, ok?

If you had the pleasure of attending the concert presented by the Shanghai String Quartet, you heard music I’ll bet you never heard before.  With Wu Man, who is the equivalent of a classical music rock star in Asia, the very polished quartet played evocative, calm music.  Then the quartet launched into Beethoven’s “Serioso” String Quartet in F minor; I suspect they did it just to prove that they are masters of Western music, too.  I think “impeccable” is the word I’m looking for….  Finally, a modern Chinese composition, Ghost Opera, with its sly asides and rollicking humor, all tied up in a ribbon of marvelous sound.

…a modern Chinese composition, Ghost Opera, with its sly asides and rollicking humor, all tied up in a ribbon of marvelous sound.

And let’s discuss this very small Chinese lady with her beautiful Chinese lute.  She is a ballerina of four strings, each graceful movement  eliciting sounds that simply carried the listener to an idealized China.  And here’s a very good reason to join the SA Chamber Music Society as a Patron:  over dinner, we had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Honggang Li, the Shanghai Quartet’s magician of the viola.  He spoke about the music, of course, but he also analyzed modern China for us.  He allowed his dinner companions a view of where modern China has come from and where it seems to be headed.
…a ballerina of four strings, each graceful movement eliciting sounds that simply carried the listener to an idealized China.

So muchas gracias, señor Polo!   Not only did we learn about the pipa and the evocative music of China and how these particular musicians came to and mastered Western music, we learned something about China.  I’d call that an afternoon well spent.

– E Doyle

Out of “ex”es and “so”s

So… (don’t you just hate it when someone starts into a discussion of something with “so”?)  So, did you catch the Gryphon concert?  So, whadidja think?  I’m so glad you asked!  Me, I thought the concert was – what’s the word I’m looking for? – excellent?  exuberant ?  exceptional? extraordinary?

Okay, I’m out of “ex”es and “so”s.  Here’s the straight skivvy:  if you missed this one, you should now feel badly that you missed a beautiful performance from three uncommonly talented musicians.  If you were there, you left the Temple with a smile and, I hope, a feeling of satisfaction at having spent a Sunday afternoon learning about classical music and how trios can perform beyond their number.  One + one + one = more than three; these three musicians seem to equal more than the sum of their parts.

San Antonio Chamber Music Society presents the Gryphon Trio for the Las Americas Festival! Here's a glimpse of "Love Triangle" by Canadian composer from Sri Lanka, Dinuk Wijeratne -

Posted by Suhail Arastu on Sunday, January 24, 2016

A glimpse of “Love Triangle” by Canadian composer from Sri Lanka, Dinuk Wijeratne. Video by Suhail Arastu.

Furthermore, if you are a member of SACMS, you also enjoyed a really good dinner at a, well, a stable (in this case, the very classy stable at the Botanical Garden).  Not a member?  You would have thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking with these 3 delightful Canadians (that would be Gryphon) over a gourmet dinner, and our after-concert dinners are always a great way to end the day.  You might want to look into it.

So, this is the kind of quality musical performance you’ve come to expect from the San Antonio Chamber Music Society.  Seventy-three years of Excellence.  That’s really amazing!  And there are two more concerts to come, don’t forget:  The Shanghai Quartet with Wu Man on February 28, and the Dover String Quartet on April 3.

So…see you there?  I hope so!

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