Shanghai Quartet Pulls at Heart Strings

Friday’s muggy weather was not enough to keep theatergoers from traveling to the Alexander Kasser Theater to see the Shanghai Quartet.

Shanghai Quartet doesn’t let bad weather stop them from playing their hearts out.

The Shanghai Quartet warmed the crowd on the chilly evening in Montclair with the beautiful sounds of strings. Members Weigang Li on violin, Yi-Wen Jiang on violin, Honggang Li on viola and Nicholas Tzavaras on cello were joined by soprano Ying Huang and special guest pianist David Witten. The concert featured wonderful selections from the likes of Franz Schubert, Antonin Dvořák, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ernest Chausson.

A little after 7:30 p.m. the Shanghai Quartet emerged and began the show with “Quartettsatz in C minor,” a piece by Schubert. The quartet then moved into A-flat playing Antonin Dvořák’s “Adagio ma non troppo-Allegro Appassionato.” It was during this segment that the quartet received their greatest ovation. Just before intermission, the crowd cheered after the exciting ending of “Allegro ma non troppo.” The crowd had an eager vibe about what was to come next.

© Seth Fisher | Dreamstime Stock Photos

After the brief intermission, soprano Ying Huang and special guest pianist David Witten joined the quartet. The soothing sounds of the Shanghai Quartet in combination with Huang’s strong vocals and Witten’s outstanding piano skills made for an exiting second half of the performance. Huang sang songs in Latin, French and her native Chinese dialect. Huang serenaded the audience with five Chinese folk songs: “A Little Path,” “Seeking the Plum,” “Homesick,” “Spring” and “I Live at the Sources of Chang Jiang River.”

The Shanghai Quartet’s focus, as mentioned on their personal site, is primarily “to present an elegant meld of Eastern music with Western repertoire performed at the highest artistic standard,” and they did just that.

Beverley Timins, of Montclair, said, “It was a very joyous show.” Timins, a former West Orange French teacher, also said she deeply enjoyed the soprano’s rendition of Chanson perpétuelle, translated from French as “Song Without an End,” and that she hopes to see the quartet once again in the future.

The theater was not completely packed but there were very few empty seats. Even students from the university made it out to the event. Students Chris Decesare and Rose Siblia sat in on the performance and had great things to say. Decesare, a violinist himself, simply said, “They’re just phenomenal.”

Rose Sibilia said the show was “really, really well done.” Decesare happens to be a student of Yi-Wen Jiang, studying music in the university’s John J. Cali School of Music.

The rest of April will be quite eventful for the Shanghai Quartet. They will continue making stops throughout North America in cities including Winnipeg, Canada, Newtown, Conn. and Saint Paul, Minn. For more information about future shows or the band itself, please visit their website.

Many patrons chose to park in Red Hawk Deck and only ended up paying about $6. After the show many enjoyed dining in the downtown section of Montclair. Mediterranea, located on Bloomfield Avenue seemed to be the go-to spot for the theatergoers’ evening meals.


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