Re-blog: Music, funding take unusual path to SC Philharmonic-Sybarite5 performance

Posted on March 11, 2015

Sybarite 5 will perform the premiere of composer Dan Visconti’s “Beatbox” at a South Carolina Philharmonic concert Saturday night.


Columbia music fans can experience a rare treat Saturday thanks to a new funding source and a boundary-pushing composer and musical group.

The premiere of composer Dan Visconti’s “Beatbox” by the genre-bending group Sybarite5 will be the highlight of a South Carolina Philharmonic concert Saturday night. Visconti’s 17-minute concerto for a string quintet and orchestra will draw the attention. He’s a young maverick with a background in violin whose work encompasses characteristics of jazz, bluegrass and rock. Sybarite5 seems an ideal interpreter of Visconti. The string quartet’s concerts veer from typical classical to classical variations of songs by rock bands such as Radiohead.

Adding to the interesting backstory, the commission for “Beatbox” was raised through a crowdfunding Kickstarter campaign. The goal was to raise $5,000, but the effort quickly pulled in $7,150.

Morihiko Nakahara, music director of the Philharmonic, talked about the impact of the crowdfunding process and the melding of genres in classical music.

“The unique nature of collaborating with Sybarite 5 – the first concerto written for a string quintet and orchestra as far as we know – allowed us to tap into the crowdfunding realm. It was gratifying to see how many individuals, including many first-time donors and several people outside of the Midlands, participated and put us over the goal.

“Will the crowdfunding replace the traditional grants and sponsorships in the future? Not likely, but we will definitely explore all forms of fundraising to suit our various projects, and in some instances, the crowdfunding will be the most effective tool to connect with a particular group of passionate arts supporters.”

As for the mixing of genres:

“What is changing in the recent years, I think, is that the whole genre bending/blurring seems to be more readily accepted by our core audience. Ensembles like Sybarite5 have been breaking these preconceived barriers between the art music and the vernacular for years through their programming and performances on college campuses and in alternative venues.

“With the recent opening of Music Farm in Columbia, I would love to see our orchestra explore more of these kinds of collaborations and dialogues happen more regularly, sometimes outside of the Koger Center. It worked perfectly as our main performance venue for the main subscription series, but I think it’s important to take the orchestra into alternative performance venues like Music Farm in addition to what we do at the Koger.”

The premiere of “Beatbox” will be the meat in a classical music sandwich. The philharmonic will open the 7:30 p.m. show at the Koger Center with “ Four Dance Episodes” from Aaron Copland’s ballet “Rodeo,” and close it with Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony. Tickets are available at

Joey Holleman


Read more here:

Setlist 3/7/15 McPherson KS

Mcpherson Opera House 7:30pn
The Rebel- Piotr Szewczyk
Black Bend- Dan Visconti
Yann’s Flight- Shawn Conley
Paranoid Android- Radiohead (arr. Kim)
Milonga Del Angel- Piazzolla (arr. Bragato/syb5)
La Muerte Del Angel- Piazzolla (arr. Bragato/syb5)
Allegro Di Molto in Bb,  W.A. Mozart
Blue Rondo A la Turk, Brubeck arr Cohen/syb5
Two Armenian Folk Songs- Komitas
Weird Fishes-Radiohead (arr. Kim)
No Surprises- Radiohead (arr. Syb5)
Turceasca- Taraf De Haidouks (arr. Matt Van Brink)

*Encore: “Heartbreaker” Led Zeppelin arr Reed/syb5

re-blog: Alabama Review from ArtsBham 2/7/2015

With no pre-announced program, picture taking encouraged, the first violinist clad in jeans and a large portion of the audience well under 30, regular classical music attendees might have wonder if they had arrived at the right venue Friday night.

They did, if they came to Brock Recital Hall to hear Sybarite5, the cutting-edge New York-based string quintet that is turning the concertgoing experience upside down. Even if it was the heart of classical repertoire you came to hear, you might have come away believers in the future of music.

Sybarite5 in Brock Recital Hall, Feb. 6, 2015

Sybarite5 in Brock Recital Hall, Feb. 6, 2015

This talented and congenial group could easily be placed among established touring ensembles of classical music. Individually they are virtuosos; as a group they meld seamlessly. They could thrill listeners with Schubert or Dvorak, and no doubt they have. But they also engage listeners in unique ways, effectively bridging the old and the modern, the stuffy and the popular.

Launching into Piotr Szewczyk‘s “The Rebel,” with its driving offset rhythms and jazzy slides, the stage was set for what would be a wild ride through the last half century of modern music – of many stripes. With Dan Visconti‘s “Black Bend,” they breathed new life into 12-bar blues, the upper strings contributing frenetic improvs. Shawn Conley‘s “Flight” is a musical vision of Hawaii as seen from a hang glider, softly depicting airy space. Its musical language is reminiscent of Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla‘s tango-inspired music, which would follow with a wistfully romantic arrangement of “Milonga del Angel,” parts of which might have been mistaken for late 19th century chamber music. “La Muerte del Angel” was the energetic tango that showcased, more than any other work on the concert, the quintet’s virtuosity, lyricism and oneness.

No concert of this kind would be complete without Radiohead, the British rock group headed by Jonny Greenwood, many of whose tracks easily lend themselves to classical interpretations. “Weird Fishes,” “15 Step” and “No Surprises” surfaced here, each sounding fresh and vibrant and ranging from intensely rhythmic to inward and reflective. In between were Jessica Meyer‘s “Getting Home,” a musical account of the composer’s anxiety to meet her son; and sojourns to the folk music of Armenia and Romania.

Read the artsBHAM preview story

On Thursday, Sybarite5 held one of its “New Music Idol” competitions at a Samford coffee house. Entries were submitted by eight Samford music composition students, and the winning and runner-up (by one vote) compositions were premiered here. Given the two-minute limitation for entries, they were rather remarkable. Kyle McGucken’s “MQ-1\9” – named for predator drones, may be the only musical composition with a backslash in its title. It ominously depicts the sounds of aircraft in low, rumbling strings, and channels the emotions of people on the ground with Middle Eastern modes. Brianna Ware’s “Sorrow and Rage of a Demigod” portrays Achilles’ reaction to the death of Patroclus in Homer’s “The Iliad.” Though stylistically worlds apart, each succinctly dove into a complex narrative. More from these young composers would be most welcome.

The encore, Sybarite5’s arrangement of a-ha‘s mid-1980s hit “Take on Me,” managed to insert a few bars of “Flight of the Bumblebee,” as a reminder that this group can do just about anything it sets its collective mind to.



Sami Merdinian and Sarah Whitney, violinists
Angela Pickett, violist
Laura Metcalf, cello
Louis Levitt, bassist

Friday, Feb. 6, 2015
Brock Recital Hall, Samford University
Presented by Samford Wright Signature Series