Just Play Concert: ACMP Members in California perform Beethoven and Gabriela Lena Frank

Photo by Xing Yang: Left to right: Sue Soong, Kevin Jim, Angus Davol, and Julie Park

Julie, Sue, Kevin, and I have all known each other for many years through various musical connections, but the first time we played together as a quartet was in January 2020 in preparation for attending the SoCal Chamber Music Workshop that summer. Covid put those plans on hold, of course, so the next time we played together was in 2022 in preparation for that summer’s SoCal workshop. 

For the 2022 workshop, participants were encouraged to include works by women, so we chose to work on “Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout” by Gabriela Lena Frank—an amazing but technically challenging quartet—as well as two movements of Beethoven Op. 18 No. 1. We had a wonderful and exhausting week at the workshop—coaching sessions all day, freelancing in the evening, and more music and socializing late into the night. During the week, our group was fortunate to be coached by Stephen Harrison, Rachel Huang, Maggie Parkins, and all four members of the Telegraph Quartet: Eric Chin, Joseph Maile, Pei-Ling Lin, and Jeremiah Shaw. We finished out the week by performing two movements from Leyendas at the closing participants concert, which we enjoyed so much that we decided to plan for a full performance of both pieces.

Since Julie lives in San Diego and the rest of us in the San Francisco Bay Area, the opportunities for the four of us to play together are unfortunately rare, so we planned the concert for October when Julie would be in San Francisco for a work trip. Sue arranged the rental of a church near her home in Albany, CA (assisted by an ACMP Just Play grant.) We also arranged for two more coaching sessions in the week before the concert: one with Joseph Maile on the remainder of the Beethoven, and another with Kathryn Bates of the Del Sol Quartet (assisted by an ACMP Home Coaching grant). We were especially fortunate to be coached on Leyendas by Kathryn at her home—not only since she knows Gabriela and has recorded that quartet, but also since her partner and quartet-mate Charlton Lee was home during our coaching session and was able to demonstrate some of the Andean music and instruments that Leyendas invokes.

We weren’t sure how the turnout would be for our concert, so we were surprised and delighted that so many people came to hear us, nearly filling the church. We again had such a great experience performing that we are already planning another performance for February 2023, this time near Julie in San Diego.

Watch the concert! Julie Park, Sue Soong, Angus Davol, and Kevin Jim live from Albany, California, October 9, 2022

Huge thanks to ACMP for their support throughout our journey as a quartet, including not only our Home Coaching and Just Play grants, but also their grant supporting the SoCal workshop that started us off. 

And a fun postscript: a few weeks after our concert, Julie attended the premiere of Gabriela’s opera El Último Sueño de Frida y Diego at San Diego Opera and got to meet her after the performance. Julie shared that she was an amateur violinist and that we had just performed Leyendas. In response, Gabriela laughed and said “You must not be very amateur!”

Photo by Michael Goble: Julie Park with composer Gabriela Lena Frank

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