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Sybarite5 bring modern music to IUP in a classical way

03/11/2014
Andrew Milliken
Staff Writer

Sybarite5, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning string quintet, will perform at Indiana University of Pennsylvania at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Gorell Recital Hall.

The string quintet features two violins, a viola, a cello and a double bass.

The configuration is extremely versatile, and composers have been writing music specifically for string quintets for hundreds of years.

However, this quintet aims for something a litte different.

Sybarite5’s repertoire ranges from, “Mozart to Radiohead,” and their concerts promise to offer something for all music fans, according to their website.

The group has garnered much recognition for its skills, including winning the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and performing in venues across the United States and Canada.

All the members of the quintet are active musicians, either as soloists, chamber musicians or members of symphony orchestras across the globe.

Sami Merdinian, internationally acclaimed soloist and violinist for Sybarite5, explained the slightly quirky founding of the quintet.

Sybarite5 began at the Aspen Music Festival.

Louis Levitt, bassist and founder of the quintet, used to play on a street corner outside a local bakery to make some extra money.

As a result, people flocked to the area to hear high-quality music.

The members of Sybarite5 found each other in 2009 thanks to Levitt’s street playing, and the group has been going strong ever since, performing in 26 of the 50 states and Canada.

Sybarite5 are set to premiere a new concerto for string quintet and orchestra by Dan Visconti in the near future. The group even has plans to travel to Japan and South America next season.

Japan and South America not withstanding, Merdinian expressed excitement about coming to IUP.

“We’ve heard great things about the [Lively Arts] series,” Merdinian said in a phone interview.

Merdinian also said that their eclectic program stems from the individual tastes of the members of the ensemble.

“One of the most exciting and challenging things is finding music we all want to play,” he said.

Merdinian said the music listened to by Sybarite5 extends from classical music to jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck to rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and to more experimental, contemporary music.

Merdinian specifically cited the innovative, endlessly interesting, sometimes strange group Radiohead as a specific influence on the ensemble’s music choices.

He mentioned an original arrangement of the song “No Surprises” from Radiohead’s landmark album “OK Computer” that will appear on the program.

Merdinian hopes that their program will not only provide music for fans of multiple genres but will perhaps foster interest in a style of music that was previously bland for some listeners.

“Hopefully the audience members who came to hear Radiohead will leave interested in Mozart and vice versa,” Merdinian said.

“It works both ways, and it’s very nice to see how the audience responds to our program,” he said.

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