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Feels Like Home: Members of the Miró Quartet on Their Time at Norfolk

Joshua Gindele, John Largess
Feels Like Home

The Miró Quartet's John Largess and Joshua Gindele talk about their time at Norfolk.  READ

For the Miró Quartet, Norfolk is not just another music festival: it’s a home, a legacy they are honored to be a part of. As a quartet, they spent a formative two summers at Norfolk as fellows, summers which turned out to be some of the most important in their development as a quartet according to cellist Joshua Gindele. From the intense work to the incredible mentorship, from meeting fellows who would eventually become colleagues, to working alongside their former faculty, Norfolk continues to play an invaluable role in their career.

“It’s wonderful to be a part of that long life, that long continuity,” violist John Largess says. “It makes me proud to be a part of that legacy, which inspires me to pass that onto the fellows here, too.”

Although the rich history and high caliber of performances haven’t changed, some things certainly have. It’s why the Quartet loves to share their stories of their time as Norfolk fellows with the current fellows.

 “Life was harder back then,” the two explain with a laugh. “We didn’t have brand new dorms…we’d often sleep on campus, because the places we were staying were pretty far, and we’d rehearse late, so we’d go down to the barn and sleep on the sofa.”

These days, the fellows are fortunate to experience newly renovated housing on the grounds, an air-conditioned performance hall, and brand-new rehearsal spaces.

All jokes and fond memories aside, the journey from fellow to faculty has given the Quartet lots of wisdom to impart  including how to bring the music alive in the short span of a summer festival. These are skills that are certainly required for the Festival’s upcoming concert on July 28, when Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht will be performed.

“It’s one of the hardest pieces to put together for string chamber music, but it’s also a beautiful, amazing piece that the audience always enjoys. There’s a wonderful poem that goes with it that tells the story of love triumphing over bad, and the music is magical and transformative,” Largess shares. “It’s not dissonant, twelve-tone Schoenberg. It’s romantic Schoenberg: more like Wagner with lush, singing lines and leitmotivs,” he continues. “It’s a very approachable piece: it’s delicious and fun.”

For Gindele, performing the piece at Norfolk carries a special meaning: the very first time he heard Verklärte Nacht live was here during his time as a fellow. Once again, it’s an example of the many full-circle moments the Quartet has experienced. Although their roles have reversed, the Miró Quartet still strives to impact listeners as they have so often been impacted.

Because for the Miró Quartet, that’s truly what music is all about: connecting with the audience.

For them, performances that are the most rewarding are the ones they feel they truly make a difference. Gindele cites some specific performances that felt particularly moving, ones when the audience was as engaged as the performers. When that happens, he says, “there’s a synergy there that’s really special, and we feel like we are making an impact yet they are impacting us at the same time.”

For approximately twenty years now, off and on, the Miró Quartet has been inspiring audiences and Fellows alike through their Norfolk performances, just as they too were once inspired by Norfolk faculty many years ago. “We have so many memories playing with different artists as Fellows and as professionals here. Audience members have come and gone over the years, but we have some patrons we look out for and still recognize…there’s a continuity not only with teachers and artists but with the audience, too,” Largess says.

“Norfolk feels like home…we feel very comfortable on that stage, and we’ve had so many memorable concerts in the Shed,” Gindele says of what makes Norfolk special to him.

Indeed, Norfolk certainly has a long legacy of memorable concerts, and it’s a legacy that the Quartet is proud to continue.


Hear the Verklärte Nacht, as well as works by Johannes Brahms and William Grant Still on Friday, July 28 at the Music Shed. TICKETS + INFORMATION