It’s been said that music is food for the soul. Members of the Dover Quartet, however, have taken that saying to a whole different level: they insist on feeding people’s stomachs as well.
“Music is about people coming together, and you hear a lot of talk about music improving people’s lives, but we sometimes don’t make that obvious,” said Camden Shaw, cellist of the Dover Quartet, which performs at the Samueli Theatre of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Nov. 25.
“We try to remember that, through music, we can help someone in physical ways as well,” Shaw said. “So what we do is donate our fees for one or two concerts a season to go to a hunger charity organization to distribute food to those in need.”
The Dover Quartet is active in Music for Food, an initiative where musicians raise awareness of hunger. For this show, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, which is presenting the quartet at Segerstrom as part of its Laguna Chamber Music Series, will hold a food drive in collaboration with Second Harvest, a local food bank, as a nod toward the Dover Quartet’s humanitarian efforts and Thanksgiving weekend. Patrons at the Samueli will be asked to donate what they can during this drive.
The quartet — Shaw; violinists Joel Link and Bryan Lee; and violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt — was founded in 2008 in Philadelphia, where it is still based. They are all alumni of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and they’re named after “Dover Beach,” a musical setting of Matthew Arnold’s lyric poem by Samuel Barber, himself a Curtis alum.
Although each of the members are also pursuing solo careers, together they perform more than 100 concerts a season worldwide, often in collaboration with other artists, such as pianists Emanuel Ax and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, bassist Edgar Meyer and the Escher String Quartet.
Inspired by their former teachers, the legendary Guarneri String Quartet, the Dover Quartet made its first recording an all-Mozart affair. It was released in 2016, some 50 years after the Guarneri’s first album, which was also all-Mozart. Guarneri founding violist Michael Tree, who died in April, joined the Dover Quartet on that recording, making the linkage complete.
The Dover Quartet’s third album is set for release next year, and members say they will start recording their fourth CD soon.
For the Samueli concert, the Dover Quartet will perform “From Amber Frozen,” a modern work by Grammy-nominated American composer Mason Bates. This will be sandwiched by a pair of last quartets: the rarely performed No. 3 in E-flat minor, Op. 30, of Peter Tchaikovsky, and the virtuosic No. 14 in A-flat Major, Op. 105, by Antonín Leopold Dvořák.
“We just love playing together,” Shaw said. “It takes every fiber of our being to keep it going at this intensity level so that we create a product that’s very unified and very committed to our vision of what a quartet should sound like: that every person is unique and individual, that the inner voices — the second violin and the viola — are just as important as the outer voices and should sound just as strong. This creates an almost organ-like thickness in sound.
“It’s really a nimble balance between blending extremely well, like one instrument, and being individual, like the four instruments we are. And every musical situation calls for a different color in that balance.”
Michael Rydzynski is a contributor to Times Community News.
IF YOU GO
What: The Philharmonic Society of Orange County presents the Dover Quartet, part of the Laguna Chamber Music Series
When: 3 p.m. Nov. 25
Where: Samueli Theatre, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Cost: Tickets start at $28