La Cafamore presenting Black Angels on EK tour

Nelson’s La Cafamore string quartet will return to Cranbrook on April 20 to perform two works, one well-known and the other not so.

Nelson string quartet La Cafamore will play in six Kootenay venues on this month’s tour.

Nelson string quartet La Cafamore will play in six Kootenay venues on this month’s tour.

Brian Lawrence/Creston Valley Advance

Nelson’s La Cafamore string quartet will return to Cranbrook on April 20 to perform two works, one well-known and the other not so.

Audiences on the quartet’s Kootenay tour will enjoy Franz Schubert’s Death and the Maiden (String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor), as well as a more recent work, Black Angels, by American composer George Crumb, in which the members will play their usual instruments in unusual ways, and throw in a few new sounds for good measure.

A variety of percussive instruments — such as crystal glasses and a tam-tam gong — will be used, and in some parts, will play their instruments, well, backwards, with their fingers near the bridge and the bow where their fingers usually go.

“Some of the techniques are very difficult,” said cellist Jeff Faragher. “We’ve all been practicing on our own for about eight months. …

“[Crumb] is a master of soundscapes. He tells stories through experimenting with different tones and pushing the edge of what instruments can do.”

Chanting of numbers in various languages, including German, Japanese and Hebrew, rounds out Black Angels, which Crumb wrote in 1970 to represent the struggle of good versus evil.

“The piece is a journey,” said Fragher. “It embodies a fall from grace and a journey through hell. It’s not directly religious per se, and it’s not based on anything religious.”

The work is comprised of three parts. The first, Departure, depicts the fall, the second, Absence, introduces the dark themes of the fallen angel, and the third, Return, brings forth beautiful music as God prevails over evil.

Faragher was introduced to the work in college, when a friend played it for him at a library listening station. He was told to turn the volume up for the beginning because it was really quiet — which he discovered wasn’t the case.

“The beginning is extremely violent and loud,” Faragher said, adding that his startled reaction got him kicked out of the library.

That doesn’t represent the entire score, however.

“It’s challenging enough, but still there are some beautiful melodies, there are some really magical moments that draw the audience in,” he said. “There’s a bit of theatricism, as well, with all the instruments we have.”

The Schubert piece, Death and the Maiden, also has a serious tone. Written in 1824, the theme of death is present in all four movements.

“Because of the dark nature of the program, we thought it would fit,” Faragher said. “It’s probably one of his most famous. They’ll kind of mirror each other nicely.”

La Cafamore’s Kootenay tour begins in Nelson, and also travels to Creston,  Cranbrook, Invermere, Rossland and Silverton.

“It’s very important to me to bring relatively new music to audiences who don’t get a chance to hear it,” Faragher said.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m., April 20, at Knox Presbyterian Church in Cranbrook.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and children, and $45 for families, available at the door. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/LaCafamoreStringQuartet.

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