Two Somerton violinists are enjoying a harmonious existence with the Meiravi Quartet.
Talk about a string quartet — two violinists, a cellist and violist — and most people will think “classical” music.
Much of the time they would be right, but not this Sunday.
At 3 p.m., the Meiravi Quartet will perform a new work by its own composer in residence, violist Peter Nocella, along with Bela Bartok’s Rumanian Dances and Claude Debussy’s Quartet in G Minor at Houston Hall on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
OK, not classical, but a long way from jazz, rap, rock or disco.
Debussy’s piece is an example of French impressionism, said violinist Gregory Teperman, and his colleague Igor Szwec described the sheer beauty of the sound as “ethereal.”
“It’s a great piece of work and very French,” said Teperman, a Somerton resident. “The transition from one harmony to another is not like classical music.”
Szwec — also a violinist who lives in Somerton — and Teperman said concert-goers can connect with the early 20th-century piece much as a person does with visual art.
“It’s like when you come up to a painting,” Teperman said. “You might not know much about it, but something touches you and gives you a certain feeling … for different people it brings different thoughts.”
“It speaks to you personally,” Szwec said. “It’s such a wonderful piece of music … as we go through the different movements, I marvel at the artistry.”
The fluidity of changing harmonies in the piece’s third movement is especially beautiful, Teperman said.
Teperman and Szwec joined with Nocella, who lives in Narberth, and cellist Vivian Barton Dozor of Center City to form the Meiravi Quartet earlier this year. They gave their first performance in April at the University of Pennsylvania.
The ensemble performed Nocella’s String Quartet No. 1 in Blue at that debut. They will play the composer’s String Quartet No. 2 in Red on Sunday.
With so many types of music available, how does someone who has had limited exposure to music for a quartet get into that sound?
“Most music speaks for itself,” Szwec, 64, said. “It’s a matter of letting yourself be exposed to the music,” he explained, adding that he grew up with rock ’n’ roll and still loves it.
Szwec, born in Austria, and Teperman, born in Moldavia, have performed with popular musicians as well as with the quartet and orchestras.
Teperman, 56, who came to this country in the early 1980s, has an extensive musical resume that includes the USSR State Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and the Moldavian Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, in addition to orchestral accompaniment for such performers as Johnny Mathis, Josh Groban and Rosemary Clooney. Szwec, who came to the U.S. when he was 3, has played with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra and has been part of ensembles performing with Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith and Justin Timberlake.
But, Szwec said, a string quartet that is experienced live presents concert-goers with an incredible grouping.
“The sound of strings blending together can evoke some of the deepest emotions possible,” he said, “and also provides the audience the gamut of emotions — from moving to comedic to entertaining.”
Teperman has similar feelings.
“When people ask me why I do what I do,” he said, “I say I’m glad to be able to take people out of everyday life for two and a half hours and put them into the wonderful world of music.” ••
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or email@example.com
Strike up the quartet …
The show: The Meiravi Quartet performs at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Houston Hall on the University of Pennsylvania campus, 3417 Spruce St. Tickets are $22, $15 and $5, and are available online at MeiraviQuartet.com or by calling 610-662-7000.
The musicians: Peter Nocella, viola; Gregory Teperman and Igor Szwec, on violin; and Vivian Barton Dozor, cello.
Inside tip: The quartet’s name, Meiravi, is a combination of the names of Nocella’s two children, Me’ira and Avi. ••