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Houston Matters

Young Classical Musicians Find Drama, Friendship Performing In ‘The Ensemble’

Writer and former Houstonian Aja Gabel talks about her debut novel, which is set against the dynamic of a group of young classical musicians.


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It's an intense relationship – four young musicians performing in a chamber ensemble called the Van Ness Quartet.

There are the hours spent rehearsing. The pressure of performance. Their varying talents, backgrounds and insecurities. Henry is a prodigy on the viola. Daniel, the cellist, has some pent-up angst and likes to sleep around. Brit is the shy second violin who grew up an orphan. And first violinist Jana is the group's resilient leader.

The extremes of the group's failures, their successes, their friendships, and their betrayals are fertile ground for a story. And writer Aja Gabel knows that all too well.

Gabel is a classically trained cellist who spent time performing in an ensemble herself. That's why she decided to set her debut novel, The Ensemble, in the crucible of such a group dynamic.

Writer Aja Gabel, who received her Ph.D. in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston. Her debut novel, The Ensemble, is set within the intense dynamic of a group of young chamber musicians.

Gabel, who earned her Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston, tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty how her own experiences alerted her to the potential for drama, tension, and character development in a story about musicians.

Gabel will host a reading at Brazos Bookstore with Inprint tonight at 7.