Welcome to Quintus 4
Welcome to Quintus 4, a new experiment in appreciating old music! We build artistic and business models that are tailored for the 21st century. We are made up of vocalist Suzanne Kantorski, cellist Juan Sebastian Delgado, percussionist Krystina Marcoux and pianist Rich Coburn.
Why do we want to do this? Over a period of centuries, the classical music industry—and we’re all classically trained so this is our home base—has gradually changed from a progressive institution to a conservative one as has been documented by Alex Ross among others. This is not to say that classical music is devoid of meaningful innovation today, far from it! But as the rate of change of society and technology has continued to accelerate, many of the underlying ideas, specifically about how we program concerts and how we share with the public, haven’t kept up.
In fact, we are in some senses stacking the odds against ourself. Quintus 4 doesn’t feel that it is fair to blame the failures of the classical institution—whatever you may construe those to be—wholly on classical music. A large part to the blame falls on the way that we try to cram old music into a modern mold in which it barely fits. As two very shallow examples, a lot of classical music has durations and dynamic ranges which are poorly adapted to the average listening conditions of our lives, and we assume of many other people’s as well.
The continuation of large arts organizations proves of course that it is still possible and desirable to program the longest, most dynamically... erm... dynamic music. However we feel that new models running in parallel could help overcome some of the disadvantages we have unwittingly put ourself at.
So, what do we want to do?
We call ourselves a new experiment in old music deliberately. We’re experimenting in three specific areas, each of which will be explained in detail in an upcoming blog post. The first two experiments are related, and could be thought of as modelling our concert experiences more on an art museum than on a traditional concert:
Our first experiment is developing a new way to think about programming a concert. We view it less as an assortment of essentially unconnected pieces and more as a chance to explore an idea through music. We’re not talking about a “songs of love” type theme; we mean that every piece helps explain the idea we are exploring in a specific and concrete way. Our first topic of exploration is a rhythm called tresillo, and you’ll hear more about it in our next post.
Our second experiment is developing a new way to interact with the public (new to classically oriented musicians perhaps, common to many other industries). While you could just browse the art at a museum, there are also generally an abundance of text designed to help you understand and contextualize the subject. We won’t burden the uninterested with this information at our concert, but we will make it available to the general public in the form of regular blog posts and YouTube videos. Think of it as extensive program notes, but ones you actually want to read. You could even say that instead of a group that makes music and then tries to have a social media presence, we are an organization that creates high quality online content and also presents live music as the most pure expression of that online content.
Our third experiment is developing a unique sound for ourselves. Because we are a non-standard ensemble, we arrange all our own music. This allows us to present the music in a way that highlights our subject, capitalizes on our personalities and strengths, and is completely distinct.
We believe that as these ideas continue to evolve we will be able to create increasingly effective artistic, business and content delivery models. In this way we not only add value to our audiences, but to all the other musicians and organizations with whom we partner. We hope that you will join us on this journey, and look forward to getting more into detail about our ideas in our upcoming posts!