Spotlight: The Chroma Quartet strings together an instrumental ensemble

 
 

They said it was supposed to be a one-time performance, the four members of The Chroma Quartet explain as they sit in their rehearsal space in the family room of Christopher and Jennifer Takeda’s new home. The violin-playing couple makes up half of the group; the other half consists of cellist Abraham Feder and violist Michael McClelland. The musicians reminisce about the fridgid day (at least for Sarasota) that propelled the quartet into existence.

It was November 2008, and they played on the concrete slab that would eventually become Manatee Performing Arts Center. The performance, appropriately named “Unfinished Spaces,” was a fundraiser for the building before it had heat, a stage, lighting, or even walls. Because of that day, the group started getting calls for other performances, but its members already realized they had something special. The group gelled and discovered they sounded pretty good. There wasn’t a lot of stopping to work out musical details; the discussion was minimal and not too much work.

“There’s lots of things you don’t have to talk about, and you just understand what the other person is trying to do or say,” explains Feder about the group dynamic.

“It felt really good,” says Christopher Takeda.

“Organic is a good word,” Jennifer Takeda says.

They finish each other’s sentences, cracking jokes and playfully picking on each other. They started as friends, and the experience has brought them even closer — they get together for dinners and spend time socially.

The group picked up speed last season — it played four concerts, including a three-concert series at First Church. This season, it’ll double that. The publicity has been word of mouth — the quartet members didn’t expect anyone to show up to their April 2 concert (the last in the 2012 series), and 170 came. For four musicians well known in the orchestral community, it’s no wonder the fan base is growing so rapidly. But, the intent is for the music to sell itself.

“We formed this group because it’s musically gratifying,” Jennifer Takeda says. “We enjoy making music together and putting out a product we’re proud of.”

That pride is audible in the music. You can hear the camaraderie in the give-and-take between the musicians’ highlighted segments of music. They give nods to each other’s talents and visions, and because of this, they offer something fresh and energetic: They aren’t a stuffy chamber quartet.

It makes sense that they don’t want to play weddings or freelance gigs. They don’t want to play the luncheons that accompany the big series in town; they want to play as a highlighted group on the big series. They’re just as good as some of the international quartets that come to play in the area.

But, the most humble part about them is their desire to champion Sarasota. They don’t want to play elsewhere. They value the audience, and its support.

“The Sarasota audience is well-educated and savvy about arts and culture, and…” Michael McClelland says as Jennifer Takeda chimes in.

“And, we’re giving them what we think they deserve,” she says.

All four members nod in agreement.

“Everyone,” Michael McClelland says, rattling off a list of area groups such as Gloria Musicae and Key Chorale, “has their own musical identity and I think we’re looking to take a place at that table.”

IF YOU GO 
‘From Russia with Love’
When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14
Where: First Church, 104 S. Pineapple Ave.
Cost: Tickets are $10
Info: Call 955-0935 or visit firstsrq.com/arts

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