Sybarite5 are (L to R) Sami Merdinian (violin), Angela Pickett (viola), Louis Levitt (double bass), Sarah Whitney (violin) and Laura Metcalf (cello)

Chamber group Sybarite5 had a few minutes to talk to me about the Carnegie Hall debut they are about to have tonight at 7:30 PM (I believe tickets are still available) as well as those incredible arrangements of Radiohead songs they have been showcasing in concert. They also have a CD called Everything In Its Right Place that is available for download here on on the bottom link.

CM: Can you talk about the debut at Carnegie?

Louis: We’re really excited about our Carnegie Hall debut! We’ve got a number of world premieres that we have scheduled, and it’s going to be a blast!

Angela: We’ll be premiering some new music by Mohammed Fairouz. He’s written a piece for us called “New York Minutes”, it’s about miniatures that are set in NYC at different times in the day–starting out at Grammercy Park at 9 AM and works through different neighborhoods and different boroughs. We’re also premiering a piece by Francis Schwartz called “Caliban’s Dance”, and that’s a pretty involved theatrical piece that we are still working out. And Dan Visconti’s Hitchiker’s Tales, with it’s final movement “Pedal To the Metal” will be performed in its entirety at the concert as well.

CM: How did you guys get the name Sybarite 5?

Louis: It’s a name from Greek mythology, from the town of Sybaris–the people of the town charmed their enemies by playing music, and it was also a very wealthy town. When we got together at the Aspen Music Festival, that seemed like a good name for us. It’s also the name of my grandfather’s boat.

Muerte del Angel, by Astor Piazzolla

CM: The Radiohead pieces are superb! It really does lend a lot of great sound and style to chamber music, and I guess everybody realizes this because there’s a lot of classical interpretations of Radiohead.

Sami: Paul Sanho Kim is the arranger of most of the Radiohead pieces, and he really captures their style and their sounds, trying to recreate electronic sounds in our acoustic instruments and percussive sounds. Our collaboration with him has been a challenge as well a joy.

Louis: It’s just music we love and really enjoy playing! It’s been a lot of fun for us!

Sami: The audience responds so well to those pieces! It’s very rewarding for us when the audience is excited!

Louis: It touches us in our special place! [all laughing]

CM: Of course! It wouldn’t be what it is unless it touched us in our special place!

Louis: In the right place!

Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box, (arr. Paul Kim for SYBARITE5)

CM: A lot of the people I know that are in ensembles in new music and classical are people that seem to feel the need to break away from traditional classical motifs, and they want to able to play the same music the way they want to play it, or play different things. Can you talk about your situation with that?

Laura: We basically only have one rule in selecting repertoire, which is that we play music we love to play, that we believe in, and that’s where the Radiohead came in–we’re all fans of the band. That’s really extended to pretty much all the repertoire that we choose to play, as long as we really believe in it, we believe it has the power to connect audiences, we still play it regardless if it’s classical, rock, or any other genre across the board, and if it’s not written for our ensemble, we have it arranged either by us or someone else. We believe that the arrangements bring the music to people that would never, ever have listened to Radiohead otherwise.

Sarah: I think it’s really fun, and it’s also a challenge to try to recreate these sounds. We have worked with Paul Sanho Kim quite a bit, and we created kind of a repertoire for these effects. After getting the ideas from him, listening to the Radiohead versions and finding a way to imitate that, we’re still finding new ideas for them.

Click here to purchase Sybarite5’s new CD Everything in its Right Place

Click here for info and tickets for Sybarite5’s show at Zankel Hall at Carnegie tonight at 7:30 PM



2 thoughts on “Sybarite5

  1. Pingback: Sybarite5 ~ Preview of their SubCulture shows | The Glass

  2. Pingback: Sybarite5 ~ Preview of their SubCulture show | The Glass

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