Quartet (Music Haul)

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“We agree this is one of the most beautiful string quartets in our repertoire.”

So said Dian Zhang, viola player about to perform Franz Schubert’s String Quartet in A Minor, D.804 “Rosamunde” along with violinists Kathrin Wipfler and Harriet Langley, and cellist Juliette Herlin. They sat on the makeshift stage of Music Haul, a converted camper parked outside the Chelsea Royal Diner in West Brattleboro, a small crowd gathered on the lawn, a rooster crowing not too far away.

It was not your typical classical music venue, and it was great.

In this unlikeliest of contexts, the four launched into performance, perhaps slightly more self-consciously than usual, what with microphones literally strapped to their instruments, and the commentary they injected between movements to help elucidate the underlying expressive tones for the audience. But they did the piece justice, and played — as always — beautifully.

Beyond the gorgeous, trilling, rolling sounds of the music, what most hit me was the notion of quartet: these four young musicians performing before an audience who could easily have been their parents or grandparents in age, in a setting far removed from the safety of a rehearsal studio or the familiarity of a concert hall, and they carried themselves with poise, confidence, and humanity. Beauty came into the moment not only through the music, but through the sharing of love from these four, their love of the music morphing into a general aura of gratitude: for the music, the glorious summer day, the attentive audience enjoying their gift.

In my drawing, in electing to use a quartet of bright colors dancing together in space and rhyme, I explicitly thought about this beauty brought by Zian, Juliette, Harriet, and Kathrin. And I felt such deep affection for the existence of Yellow Barn itself, with the mission of bringing this sort of humanity into the world.

My drawing is a small thing, and in the big scheme Yellow Barn is a small thing, but in a world too harsh, take a small moment and praise what’s around us.

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