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Aug 17, 2001

Visiting string quartet features Belizean artist

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With events like the Belize City Games, semi-pro basketball playoffs, Costa Maya Festival and Morgan Heritage, there is no shortage of things to do this weekend. Now lovers of classical music can add one more attraction: a visiting string quartet is in town…with one of our own as part of the mix.

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting

Four students of the Undergraduate Honours String Quartet of Rhode Island University in the United States are in Belize to stage a concert on Saturday, at the Mexican Institute on the Barracks.

Rhode Island professor of music John Dempsey is the maestro behind the music.

John Dempsey, Professor of Music, Rhode Island University

“The quartet is made up of two violins, a viola and a cello. They will be playing music by the composers Tartini, Beethoven, and an American composer by the name of Charles Ives and Haydn.”

Dempsey says to become a member of the prestigious quartet one has to excel musically.

John Dempsey

” If they are going through a full programme, that means it’s possible that they can be a part of the quartet for four years. Daniela has been a part of the group now for a year and a half, and some of the people have actually been a part of the quartet for up to three years. They change every year. They may be the same members, but it’s done by way of audition every year.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“So it’s the cherry pick of the crop?”

John Dempsey

“That’s correct it has to be the best we have to offer at our university as far as our music study.”

Pam Ursillo has been playing the cello since her ninth birthday. Thirteen years on, she feels musically connected.

Pam Ursillo, Cellist

“I like the voice of it. How it’s lower than all the voices, and you get to play all the bass parts. I just really like the sound and the quality of playing the cello and how it feels.”

According to Daniela Gongora, the violinist who organised the trip, it’s good to come home to play. Since joining the group a year and half ago, she’s found there’s something special about being in a quartet.

Daniela Gongora, Violinist

“It’s personal, intimate. We all need to really know each other. We need to look at each other a lot, which we sometimes don’t, since we’re so wrapped up in the music. But we need to have good rhythm, good timing, focus and expression. We need to know how to make sure we have the right expressions at the right time, come in at the right time. So it’s a lot of practising.”

Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

Maestro John Dempsey will hold free master classes for interested musicians on Monday and Wednesday morning at 9:30 at Pallotti High School. As for the concert, it begins at 7:30 Saturday night at the Mexican Institute. All music lovers are invited and admission is free.

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