Chamber Music

Musical Death And Darkness With The Axiom Quartet

Previewing the quartet’s season-opening concert “Black, Death, and Metal.”

Concert poster for Axiom Quartet with violin and superimposed skull
Poster for Black, Death, and Metal

At first glance, you might think that classical music and heavy metal are two wildly disparate genres, but Axiom Quartet cellist Patrick Moore disagrees. “A string quartet is really only one step removed from heavy metal bands,” says Moore, citing the string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich and Béla Bartók as something of a classical precursor to the intense instrumentals of heavy metal. 

With this in mind, Axiom has curated their first concert of this season around heavy metal music by Slayer, Megadeth, and Metallica alongside traditional classical pieces by Schubert, Piazzolla, and the rather not traditional Black Angels by George Crumb.

Crumb’s avant-garde piece from the early 1970s makes use of electric string instruments as well as playing techniques that go a little beyond standard practice. Patrick Moore notes that the use of these experimental textures is another bridge to heavy metal for these classical musicians. 

And when it comes to actually playing this heavy metal music as a quartet, violinist Ingrid Gerling says the approach is a little different compared to the traditional works: “I’m thinking much more about the energy of the piece… [compared to] when we are doing the Schubert, it’s so much more introspective…” 

You can hear my conversation with Patrick and Ingrid above, where we talk more about the inspiration for the concert, how each piece fits into the program, and the growing trend of cross-genre performances.

“Black, Death, and Metal” happens Saturday, October 27th at 7:30 PM at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church. You can find out more at the Axiom Quartet website.

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