The Lark Quartet will make a stop at Bowdoin this Saturday to perform for students and members of the Brunswick community as a part of its celebratory 30th anniversary tour. A string quartet based in New York City, the group is acclaimed for its performances and commissionings of chamber music that fuse the western tradition with international influences.

Founded in 1985, the Lark Quartet is currently comprised of violinists Deborah Buck and Basia Danilow, violist Kathryn Lockwood and cellist Caroline Stinson. Though the original members have left the quartet, the current four continue to uphold the group’s tradition of showcasing the music of American composers.

“I’ve always been impressed with [the Lark Quartet],” said Associate Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department Vineet Shende, who, along with Concert Manager Delmar Small, invited the group to campus.

Shende believes that the performance will offer an opportunity for the audience to discover a more modern perspective of the traditional string quartet, one that goes beyond music from the 18th or 19th centuries.

    “It’s a different aesthetic from when you hear Beethoven or Haydn,” said Shende. “You appreciate [that kind of music], but at the same time there’s this rarified idea that it’s something from the past. It’s almost like you’re looking at something in a museum as opposed to something that’s living and breathing and has something to do with the world that we’re living in today.”

    In its performance on Saturday, the Lark will demonstrate this new perception of string quartets by combining music by composers of today, including Aaron Jay Kernis, Andrew Waggoner and Chinese-American composer Zhou Long with the iconic 1893 compositions of French composer Charles Debussy.

The Debussy piece, however, also deviates from the classical western idea of string quartet music, with influences from Javanese music that Debussy heard at the Paris World Fair.

“It’s almost like [the group is] presenting this world of where concert music is today, with the myriad of influences that we have," Shende said. "We see that moment where things kind of open up, and it becomes no longer something that’s just about western European elite culture, but really has all these other influences in it.”

“Commissioning new works is now more standard than it used to be,” said Stinson in an interview with the Orient. “Most groups do it in some way, but I don’t know of another quartet that has been as consistently committed to commissioning new works as the Lark.”

Lark members work to keep the group’s history alive by performing pieces that the group has previously commissioned in an attempt to establish a repertoire that will have an enduring presence on the music scene.

“Everybody benefits when a piece has an extended performance life and people are exposed to it," Stinson said. "Audiences get to know it. Other groups can hear something, pick it up as their own. [It can] lead to new points of view, new takes on things, new interactions between groups and performers.”

Music performed and commissioned by Lark has been very well-received. “Sarabande Simple; Sarabande Double" from String Quartet No. 2 "Musica Instrumentalis" by American composer Aaron Jay Kernis was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1998.

Stinson remarked that the group’s program may not seem very streamlined at first glance.

    “Nothing sounds like anything else, but everything has wonderful interrelationships,” she said.

    In addition to the concert on Saturday evening, the Lark Quartet will host a master class for Bowdoin students, which is open to the public to watch. The members of Lark will listen to students play and offer advice and suggestions.

    “At Bowdoin we have a vibrant chamber music program,” said Shende. “It’s nice that whenever the music department brings in groups like this in—highly regarded professional groups—we get them to work with students, too. It’s not just putting on a concert.”

The Lark Quartet's master class will take place in Kanbar Auditorium in Studzinski Recital Hall on Saturday, September 24th at 10 a.m. The group’s performance will take place in Kanbar Auditorium later that evening at 7:30 p.m.