The Jupiter Quartet is a family affair. For more than 15 years, violinist Meg Freivogel has played with her sister, violist Liz Freivogel; her husband, cellist Daniel McDonough; and her good friend, violinist Nelson Lee, as this musical foursome.
This isn’t the only time music and family collided for the Freivogels. Meg grew up playing string quartets with her three siblings, all spread out over 10 years. She was exposed to chamber music and Beethoven at a young age, giving her a strong voice. She felt free, confused, and challenged all at the same time, which stayed with her ever since.
“My artistry and my life experiences are inseparable. All of the components that make up my musical voice—my interpretive decisions, how they intertwine with my colleagues’ ideas, and how I communicate them to an audience—are a direct reflection of who I am,” Meg said.
The family fun doesn’t stop there. Jupiter Quartet just played a program of Brahms’ Bb Sextet, Golijov’s “Last Round,” and Mendelssohn’s Octet with the Jasper Quartet at the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois. The first violinist of the Jasper Quartet is Meg’s younger brother, J Freivogel, and the cellist is her sister-in-law, Rachel Freivogel.
“Eight people can make a lot of noise together...on and off stage! We had all of our children together [on that trip], too, which made for a big party,” Meg said.
The quartet also recently played a new composition written especially for the ensemble just this year. The group premiered “Imprimatur” by Kati Agocs in Boston; its world premiere was in June at the Aspen Music Festival. Jupiter Quartet had the chance to work with Kati this past summer, and it was inspiring to see how strong and clear her ideas were, yet how open she was to the group’s input. Her openness and sense of collaboration gave Meg a greater sense of participation and understanding. The group will pair it with Mendelssohn’s Op. 13 quartet and Debussy Quartet.
Jupiter Quartet is also working on its next release, a recording of contemporary works with piano alongside Australian pianist Bernadette Harvey on Marquis Records in 2019.
Life and Happiness
Meg is happiest when she collaborates to create something larger than herself. This may mean working to make someone else’s idea in rehearsal come to life, or seeing a student make a breakthrough, or finding a way to sacrifice her personal assertions for the good of the group.
She feels like she lucked out, to have a job as a professional quartet musician and get to travel the world sharing music with people, in addition to having a family and raising three young children with her spouse. Performing makes her feel alive, keeping her motivated and making her feel connected to the world at large.
“I try to live life to its fullest so I can bring those experiences with me on stage. Being active and engaged as a musician and a citizen of the world gives me the reassuring feeling of being part of something much bigger than myself. It gives me a reason to commune with an audience in performance and helps me understand music more profoundly,” she said. “The performances themselves feel like a sacred ritual that comes at the end of a long road of preparation and hard work.”
However, if she could have one thing, it would be sleep, especially with three little children to keep up with.
“The feeling of your brain humming along at full capacity after a good night’s sleep is a pretty miraculous thing!” she added.
To learn more about Jupiter Quartet, check out its website.