Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Giovanni Quartet Smashes Priceless Instruments!

The Giovanni String Quartet, an ensemble made up of members of the Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra, recently began thrilling audiences by smashing their instruments at the end of their performances. “We realized that just about everyone has heard the exciting, but well-known standard endings found in the great chamber music from Beethoven to Tchaikovsky” states Karl Winkler, violist with the quartet. “But for greater impact, we decided to smash our instruments after the last note of each concert.” Apparently, this has gone over well with their fans, if measured by the rock-concert type of response now achieved by the Giovanni Quartet.

Inspired by the PBS promotion to “Be More Passionate” in which a mock chamber music ensemble destroys their instruments in a fake concert, Winkler described: “We’re very passionate as well. So it made sense for us to do that kind of an outrageous thing!” The only problem, according to Winkler is the escalating cost to the group of smashing fine violins, violas and cellos. “We’ve had to increase our rates substantially since including this element in our performances and we’ve had to re-negotiate our insurance. And this is without even getting to the Strads and Guarneris! At least we can still re-use the strings.”

Not all promoters have been willing to pony up to the new rates for the Giovanni. However, the venues that have hired the quartet have been pleased with the ticket sales. Jane Doe, a concert promoter in Santa Fe, New Mexico, added “You can’t believe how much of a following they have. I’ve never seen fans like that for classical chamber music.” Violin collectors also appear to be enamored of the Giovanni Quartet, due to the gradual elimination of quality instruments caused by the group’s antics. Hans Messar, a rare violin dealer in Cholo County, New Mexico, commented: “They more they smash, the more mine are worth!”

The Giovanni String Quartet is currently preparing for a tour of North Eastern New Mexico, where they hope that their unique blend of classical music and rock stage antics will be as successful as it has been in the larger cities in the state.


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