jasper string quartet

The Jasper String Quartet had an eventful week in Portland./Photo: Jim Leisy courtesy of Chamber Music Northwest

My guess is that Western classical music won’t simply vanish from the culture, at least not anytime soon, though the space it occupies continues to shrink and its place in the culture becomes increasingly peripheral. I know some doomsayers believe it will, based on those same trends.

But I believe classical music — or rather the musicians who love and play it — is more adaptable than that. Last week, for example, as the Jasper String Quartet launched into the  Adagio movement of Samuel Barber’s String Quartet in B Minor, which I wrote about last week, I immediately located it: the movie “Platoon”! And it’s popular in soundtracks of various kinds. How can classical music die if it keeps showing up on “The Simpsons”?

The four young Jasper musicians — J and Rachel Henderson Freivogel, Sae Chonabayashi and Sam Quintal — also give me hope for the future, because I think they understand how important it’s going to be for them to educate new audiences, who don’t necessarily have the same rich history with classical music as they themselves do, and advocate for the continuing relevance of the music, whether it’s by Beethoven, Barber or Aaron Jay Kernis.

[box border=”full”]Editor’s Note: This story appeared originally on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Arts & Life page.[/box]

After they played  on Oct. 30 at Kaul Auditorium for Chamber Music Northwest, the Jaspers got a little good news: They had won the  Cleveland Quartet Award, given to promising ensembles every couple of years. It’s prestigious — previous winners have included the Brentano, Borromeo, Miro and Jupiter string quartets. But it’s also practical because it funds eight performances around the country, including one in Carnegie Hall. And one more thing: “It’s a recognition of all the work that we’ve done; it’s not a competition,” J Freivogel pointed out.

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