In our culture it is rare for a performing group to adopt a composer, as the Molinari Quartet did when Olga Ranzenhofer called me on the telephone to say: "We'd like to perform all your string quartets and we'd like you to write a new one for us."
Of course my quartets had been performed before, relatively frequently by the Orford Quartet before their retirement. The Molinari proposal was to perform each of the six quartets separately and then combine them in a grand concert in Montreal in December 1999, at which time the Seventh Quartet would be premiered.
It was an exciting proposal, but it left me transiently flustered because I'd never heard of the Molinari Quartet. But of course I was curious enough to go to Montreal to meet them. Their enthusiasm for new music was immediately evident. When I said I wanted the cellist to move around during the new quartet, Sylvie Lambert immediately went out and had someone make a harness for her instrument, leaving her free to play walking about or even dancing.
I have no idea how many hours were spent rehearsing all the quartets, but each was performed for me with stinging accuracy and abundant subtlety of expression. The Montreal marathon concert really happened! The audience was enthusiastic. The press was generous. The Seventh Quartet was well received. Within weeks a patron approached me about writing an Eighth Quartet "for the Molinari." I could go on happily writing a ninth, a tenth or a hundredth for this marvelous group of musicians.
R. MURRAY SCHAFER
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