BRATTLEBORO — A globally known string quartet will perform with a clarinetist and a percussionist at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center this weekend.
Next Stage Arts in Putney will host Brooklyn Rider with Kinan Azmeh on clarinet and Mathias Kunzli on percussion for “Starlighter” on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“Brooklyn Rider is easily the most globally known artist we’re working with this summer, and it’s a natural fit to partner with BMAC,” said Keith Marks, executive director of Next Stage Arts. “We were able to book them because they recorded at Guilford Sound this week. They recorded Phillip Glass’ music, nominated for a Grammy Award this year, and are seen as rising stars in the chamber music scene. This is a show you’d have to drive into New York to see. I’m proud that we’re hosting them in our community.”
Brooklyn Rider is Johnny Gandelsman on violin, Colin Jacobsen on violin, Nicholas Cords on viola and Michael Nicolas on cello. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has described them as “four classical musicians performing with the energy of young rock stars jamming on their guitars.”
Azmeh is a clarinetist, composer and improviser from Damascus, Syria, who has been living in New York for two decades. He said he is a longtime fan of Brooklyn Rider, and has met all four members at different times.
“We are rooted in different traditions,” he said, while noting that he and the members of the string quartet are all classically trained. “But I think we have a mutual, cultural curiosity.”
Mathias Kunzli is a percussionist who has worked with many musicians, including singer-songwriter Regina Spektor.
“Mathias is sort of a mad wizard of many different kinds of drums, and brings a similar sort of global perspective to music making,” Jacobsen said, in a phone interview along with Azmeh.
Jacobsen said this is a special week for all of the musicians.
“This is a project that had its toes dipped into the water,” he said, noting that he, Azmeh and the composer Ljova had all been writing music. “We did a couple of concerts on the West Coast and then we were supposed to have a European tour that was canceled last year during the pandemic. So this is the moment we’re coming back together.”
Jacobsen, who grew up in New York, said he loves Brattleboro, Putney and the rest of the local area. Azmeh recalls discovering Brattleboro on his first visit to the United States, while studying music in Keene, New Hampshire in 1992. He was 16 years old at the time.
“I discovered Brattleboro really early on, and it’s one of my favorite towns, I have to say, but also, this part of the U.S. — New Hampshire and Vermont — is actually the place where I decided to become a musician,” he said.
He returned to teach at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in the summers, and recalls getting off the train in Brattleboro.
“So for me, it’s a kind of quasi-coming home every time I go back to Brattleboro.”
More information about the show and tickets are available online at nextstagearts.org. Tickets are $25. Brattleboro Museum & Art Center is in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and routes 119 and 142, and is wheelchair accessible.