Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Voxare String Quartet plays soundtrack to silent film at Capitol Theatre in Clearwater

Members of the Voxare String Quartet wanted to stand out from the crowd. Take the name of their group. "It's the made-up Latin infinitive of vox, or voice, meaning 'to vocalize,' '' said Erik Peterson, the viola player. "We wanted something different from what came before us. You can't find it in a Latin dictionary."

Voxare, formed in 2008, consists of two couples, all trained at the Juilliard School in New York. Peterson is married to violinist Emily Ondracek, and both are originally from Chicago. The other couple, violinist Galina Zhdanova and cellist Adrian Daurov, are both from St. Petersburg, Russia.

They'll be playing a fascinating, offbeat piece next weekend in Clearwater, a soundtrack of Russian chamber music the group devised for a showing of a 1929 silent film documentary, Man With a Movie Camera, made by Russian avant-garde director Dziga Vertov. Fittingly, the performance is part of Ruth Eckerd Hall's string quartet series at the Capitol Theatre, an old movie theater.

Vertov's film is notable for its technical flair and non-narrative depiction of life in the Soviet Union, roughly divided between work and leisure pursuits, with scenes ranging from trains and factories to horseback riding and swimming. "We fell in love with it for its visual energy," Peterson said. "It's tremendously fast-paced and really captures the attention of the audience visually."

Voxare performs music by modernist Russian composers to accompany the film, including Mosolov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Stravinsky. "The biggest challenge was figuring out how we were going to interlock the music together," Peterson, 30, said. "Everything aligns with what you're seeing visually. We haven't written any of the music ourselves."

Playing without a conductor or audio cues by click track, the quartet members have to rely on each other to keep the music and images together. They sit to one side of the screen with lights on their stands. "No one person is in charge of leading or aligning with the film," Peterson said. "We know where we need to be in the music for any given frame of the film. We watch the film and we watch each other and sort of arrive at musical points by committee."

Excerpts from quite a lot of the 15 Shostakovich quartets supply the most music in the score. "We get a chance to sample Shostakovich's entire output," Peterson said. "It's interesting to hear how his music changed from the early quartets to the latter."

Voxare plays to Man With a Movie Camera at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Capitol, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $37, $45. (727) 791-7400; atthecap.com.

• • •

The Florida Orchestra Musicians Association is giving a concert at the Palladium Theater to benefit the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. John Bannon, the orchestra's principal timpanist who is also a conductor, will be on the podium for a program that includes Rossini's overture to the opera Semiramide; Haydn's Trumpet Concerto, with principal trumpet Rob Smith as soloist; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 1.

"The musicians of the Florida Orchestra are citizens of this community, and we ourselves are feeling the pinch of this difficult economy," Bannon, chairperson of FOMA, said in a statement. "We made a collective decision to offer our skills in this way to do what we can to help our community. Music is what we have to offer, so the musicians are donating their services for this project, and we are very pleased that the Palladium is collaborating with us in this endeavor."

The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $20 in advance, $25 at the door. (727) 822-3590; spcollege.edu/palladium.

• • •

Black Violin is made up of two classically trained string players and a DJ. Kev Marcus plays violin and Wil B plays viola — they met at Dillard High School of the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale — in a mix of hip-hop, jazz, funk and classical. They've toured as an opening act for hip-hop artists such as Fat Joe, Akon, DMX and the Wu-Tang Clan. They played for Louis Farrakhan's 75th birthday and NFL star Santana Moss' wedding.

The group performs at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Ferguson Hall of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa. $10, $15. The concert is part of the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival Gala, with $40 tickets that include admission for Black Violin plus pre- and post-show receptions. Use promo code BHFEST. (813) 229-7827 or toll-free 1-800-955-1045; strazcenter.org.

John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716.

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