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Telegraph Quartet Plays Chamber Music with a Bang
Tuesday, September 27, 2022


The Telegraph Quartet has an equal passion for standard chamber music and contemporary works.

And, no matter what they perform, they do it with an energy that they like to think supersedes that of most quartets.

“We pride ourselves on being a really exciting dynamic younger quartet,” said violinist Joseph Maile.  “The impression we like to leave people with is lots of energy and pretty physical.

“Sometimes you’ll catch us almost banging on the piano as we play Haydn—we don’t hold back. It doesn’t mean we’re playing loud, but it demonstrates the vivid connection we feel with a music that we feel is transcendental and really truly pushed limits of the time. You won’t doze off, as we try to keep our music exciting for everybody.”

The Telegraph Quartet will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at The Argyros. Tickets start at $30 and are available

In addition, they will stage a roundtable discussion at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, with ETHEL, a group that performs on Friday, Sept. 30, at The Argyros.

“ETHEL plays more contemporary music. We’re more of the traditional sound so it should be an interesting discussion,” said Cellist Jeremiah Shaw, who has performed with the Sun Valley Music Festival.

Admission to the roundtable, which will include an audience Q & A, is free. But attendees are asked to get tickets at Attendees can also save $20 on concert tickets if they buy tickets to both The Telegraph Quartet and ETHEL concerts.

The Telegraph Quartet is composed of Eric Chin and Joseph Maile on violins, Pei-Ling Lin on viola, and Jeremiah Shaw on cello. They formed the quartet in 2013 in the San Francisco Bay area where they are members of the chamber music faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as the Quartet-in-Residence.

They were awarded the prestigious 2016 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award and the Grand Prize at the 2014 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. They released their debut album in 2017 with Grammy Award winning producer Jesse Lewis.

“The name Telegraph Quartet was a long, involved process,” said Shaw. “It was 5 in the morning and we had to put a name on the application for a festival we were to perform in. We found out the name we’d wanted had been taken by an ensemble in New York. So, we searched the internet and found out that a hundred other names had been taken.

“We finally landed on the Telegraph Quartet. It’s original. The telegraph is a communication device—older technology. And we like to play music from the early 20th century, which like the telegraph was cutting edge at the time.”

Members like to share behind-the-scenes tidbits with the audience. How, for instance, the normally precocious Beethoven waited until his eighteenth work to compose a string quartet. Then it took three years for him to feel good enough about it to publish it.

Or how Mieczyslaw Weinberg fled his homeland of Poland during World War II, unable to convince his family to come with him. His String Quartet from 1946 erupts into desperation and tragic indignation as he deals with the ramifications of his exile, losing his family in the concentration camps and his wariness about living in the Soviet Union.

The third movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132, which they are performing during this tour, was written after Beethoven recovered from an illness during which he thought he was going to die. Thus, he wrote it as a prayer of thanksgiving known as “A Convalescent’s Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Divinity.”

“It sounds like what you would find in a beautiful church. It’s a hymn with a wonderful exuberance,” said Maile.

It was Shaw’s association with the Sun Valley Music Festival that led to the group booking an appearance at The Argyros.

“I got to know the community. And last year I returned to visit hosts and other community member, and they helped set up the meeting,” he said.

Shaw said he and his colleagues hope to introduce the audience to pieces they don’t know, as well as great standards.

“And we hope to entertain. Sometimes we’re tongue-in-cheek kind of goofy. We’ve got tricks and pranks around most of the corners.”

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