Watching the Bohemian Quartet perform live is like listening to history being preserved. In many ways, this gifted and exhilarating act is simply keeping a rare musical flame alive by taking on the challenging oeuvre of the Romany, or "gypsy," musical tradition. Those of you who've already seen their show know how mesmerizing and captivating it can be. Those who've missed it thus far are in for a treat. You can see them in all their whirling glory on Saturday, Jan. 21, at what can only be called the perfect venue for the Providence band, the Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland.
Here's a little history: BQ borrowed its name from a quartet formed over 100 years ago in Czechoslovakia. That group, later called the Czech Quartet, ultimately disbanded in 1934. Appropriately enough, the two entities-BQ v.1 and today's iteration-share much more than a name. They both embrace a deep passion for the Romany tradition, and the unique ability to perform that historic repertoire with skill and verve.
The acclaimed ensemble-featuring violin, viola, cello and bass-formed in 2005. Violinist Stan Renard, a composer and virtuoso player with an impressive list of credentials, assembled the group with the idea of preserving the tradition and indulging in the virtuosic playing of classic gypsy music. Renard recruited like-minded and ambitious friends: Christine Harrington on cello, Nancy Richardson on viola, and John DeBossu on upright bass. Together, they are capable curators, tackling ancient traditions and still leaving room to wander off into newer, lovely and more modern directions.
Beyond Tradition, the quartet's latest recording and well-worth picking up, reveals that the group's intentions are true and accomplished. Recorded live at the BRT (www.riverfolk.org) and produced by Harrington and the quartet, the recording is a journey through the musical vernacular of gypsy life, with lightning fast tempos, virtuosic playing, and all the flair you'd expect from this musical vernacular.
Accolades have been bestowed on the quartet since its inception. Strad, for example, the highly regarded stringed instrument site, said recently: "The performances are very enjoyable. The musicians play up quite a storm."
In addition, they were featured on the "One World Show,” produced by Robert Malin, for which they received an award for Best Music Documentary. Beyond Tradition also enjoyed placement on the 2010 preliminary ballot by the Grammy Association. Currently, the act has signed with MCM Artists booking agency.
Don't hesitate to take advantage of this great musical moment. Go to enjoy the historic traditions. Go to witness the musical virtuosity. But above all, go to have a great time, listening to fine music in a beautiful venue.