Sybarite5 sizzles in Pawling by Jan Stribula
https://bitly.com/HFvC41 It didn't take long for the word to get out about Sybarite5 last week at the Trinity Pawling School. They were hot. After their two-day workshop, they had a strong following with students, faculty, and subscribers to the Pawling Concert Series, where musical diversity is thriving.Last Friday at the usually buttoned down world at Trinity Pawling School, Sybarit5 was completely casual in sneakers and jeans. But don't be fooled, these "kids" are totally serious about their music, with material all over the map, from Rachmaninoff to Radiohead.
Currently based in NYC, the family roots of the quintet also cover a lot of ground. Violinist Sami Merdinian grew up in Argentina before moving to NYC. Violist Angela Pickett left St. John's, Newfoundland, to attend Julliard in the footsteps of legendary harpist Carla Furlong. Louis Levitt moved from Sarasota, Fla., to play double bass. Violinist Sarah Whitney and cellist Laura Metcalf are both relatively nearby New Englanders.
Levitt's bass complements the typical instrumentation of a string quartet, but the results are anything but ordinary.
Many of their arrangements by Paul Sanho Kim have popular pieces venturing into new territory, jazzing up the classics so to speak. Other new pieces have a freshness delivered with the lush instrumentation of chamber music, like the opening number, "The Rebel" by Piotr Szewczyk. Solidly grounded in the blues, Sybarite5 added elements of otherness to Dan Visconti's "Black Blend." They gave pop culture a facelift, as Metcalf's cello provided a solid foundation to the Radiohead ditty "Paranoid Android." Tension was rising in seven city scenes going from downtown up to the Bronx in "NYC Minutes." Merdinian's violin was beautiful in Piazzola's "Muerte del Angel." Reenergized following intermission, they played a melodic Brahms sonata, bristling with excitement. Pickett's viola was bright and vibrant in a no-nonsense (almost) treatment of Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo ala Turk." They were superb as they took turns developing the tender romantic theme in Rachmaninoff's "Vocalise." With silverware and ball point pens, they proved that strings could be percussion instruments, with a couple of hard driving Radiohead tunes. They had a flamboyant finish with their Romanian take on a Turkish folk song "Turceasea" by Taraf de Haidouks. Violinist Whitney was having way too much fun in her sensational solo for their encore "Heartbreaker" by heavy metal band Led Zeppelin. It would be worth a trip into the city to see Sybarite5 when they play at Zankell Hall in (and under) Carnegie Hallthis November. Jan Stribula is a freelance writer in Ridgefield and can be reached at Janff@aol.com.