Telegraph Quartet Balances Music and Business, Releases Debut Album

The Telegraph Quartet. Photo by Matthew Washburn.

The Telegraph Quartet. Photo by Matthew Washburn.

Violinist Joseph Maile said it can be a juggling act to balance time between practice, study, rehearsal, teaching and business as one-fourth of the Telegraph Quartet. It can be tempting to allow the business part to take priority, but the Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award-winners strive to make sure it never eclipses the musical part.

The Telegraph Quartet (Eric Chin and Joseph Maile, violins; Pei-Ling Lin, viola; Jeremiah Shaw, cello) formed in 2013 with an equal passion for standard and contemporary chamber music repertoire.

It is with this passion that the group recently released its debut album, Into the Light on Centaur Records, which features the works of Anton Webern, Benjamin Britten and Leon Kirchner.

Into the Light

The idea behind the album was to bring the deeply emotional and thrilling compositions of these three 20th-century composers – Webern, Britten and Kirchner – further into the awareness of listeners.

“Our hope is that our attention to these composers, whose music we passionately believe in, will open up new musical worlds to audiences more familiar with earlier composers and also help to show that while they are strikingly original, they share much in common with those earlier composers,” Joseph Maile said.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, through fields of art, nature, history and relationships with fellow musicians. Being in a string quartet, Jeremiah Shaw said the group spends the majority of its time discussing and expressing emotions, mood, and color through music.

“One wants to search for what is behind the notes, and while you absolutely have to contend directly with the notes on the page, in the end their meaning has to be found in our own life experiences and what we can glean of the experiences of the composers who created them,” Joseph Maile added.

Music Education

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Quartet is currently on the chamber music faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as its Quartet-in-Residence. It also has given master classes at the SFCM collegiate and pre-college divisions, through the Morrison Artist Series at San Francisco State University, and abroad at the Taipei National University of the Arts and National Taiwan Normal University.

“We want to share our music with members of the community that may not have the opportunity to experience live music.” said Jeremiah Shaw. “We enjoy making these emotional connections with strangers — a very unique connection that live music allows us to have.”

Also this past season, the Telegraph Quartet began an ongoing collaboration with the Climate Music Project and composer Richard Festinger, which uses music and visual displays to help express the effects of climate change artistically and bring further awareness to the most pressing issue of our age.

“We hope to continue, on and off the stage, to do our part and act before it is too late, along with the rest of our generation,” Joseph Maile said.

Live Performance

There is nothing like performing on stage as a group. Joseph Maile said the group plays differently on stage than it does in the practice room. Even though the group doesn’t pull any punches when working out the effect of the pieces in rehearsals, you can never quite predict what will happen on stage in the moment.

“It creates a very unique laboratory for expression that absolutely cannot be replicated without the pressure and attention of a live audience! The stage often brings extremes out of us that we might not be able to find without this heightened state of alertness created by the unique event of performing in front of others,” Joseph Maile said.

“There is a potential for much greater interest in classical music than one might think, especially in this generation, but exposure and context are key.” Joseph Maile said. “It is our mission to try to ‘lift up the hood’ of the music we play to our audiences and show what elements excite us and the kinds of things we grapple with in the music. We find it is helpful for our audiences to know that we have to sort the music out as much or more than they do so that they see we are not born with the understanding of it — that it comes with time and immersion.”

Listen to the Telegraph Quartet’s debut album Into the Light on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and more. Learn more about the group and see their performance calendar on The Telegraph Quartet website.