The Alexander String QuartetWhat a joy to be back to play for the Nantucket Musical Art Society, where we have appeared in seasons past, but not for many years. The beautiful, unique ambiance of this historic place, not to mention the unbelievable beaches, definitely explains why people flock here in the Summer time.

I have been reminded of the wonderful experience of performing here in 1991. During that Mozart year the ASQ was performing an all-Mozart program interspersed with readings from letters of Mozart and his family. In each locale the presenters would choose a local person to do the readings. Here we were fortunate to have none other than the brilliant comedienne, Anne Meara, who was a summer resident. She was apologetic at the outset about her lack of knowledge about classical music, saying that her husband, Jerry Stiller, was the real classical music fan in the family (Of course, no one had heard of mega-star Ben yet at that point!)

But when the concert started, we were thrilled with the tone she took with those lively readings. She used her impeccable comic timing and facial expressions to imbue the words of Wolfgang and Leopold with contemporary relevance. Reminding us that these were real people and very humorous ones at that. She was able to capture the windbag Leopold and the playful and irreverent Wolfgang with such loving vividness, that we were starting our performances with tears in our eyes. They were tears of laughter and sometimes sadness, as she could not only convey the humor, but also the pathos of some of the passages (she was an excellent dramatic actress as well).

It really was a tour de force, but far from upstaging the music, she contributed to the depth of our appreciation of Mozart’s works. We were so saddened to hear of her passing recently, but proud that we were once privileged to share the stage with one of Americas most original and profound comic voices.

—Paul Yarbrough

Nantucket Musical Arts Society

August 4, 2015

First Congregational Church of Nantucket
Nantucket, Massachusetts
Mozart Quartet in D Major, KV 499, “Hoffmeister”
Shostakovich Quartet No. 4 in D Major, Op. 83
Brahms Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51 No. 1

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