Sybarite5 Brings Zeal to the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival
If you heard about or attended the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival this past weekend, chances are you were dazzled by the talent of Sybarite5, a string quintet of visionary musicians.
Sybarite5 has won acclaim among the alternative classical crowd after they sought a reprise from the monotony of classical repertoire. As a result, they’ve reinvented the typical chamber music performance, playing eclectic mixes of pieces from a range of genres, time periods and styles. Their website touts that their repertoire ranges “from Mozart to Radiohead.” The group earned significant recognition when they won the Concert Artists Guild International Competition, the first string quintet to do so in the Guild’s 60-year history.
Members include violinists Sarah Whitney, Angela Pickett and Sami Merdinian; cellist Laura Metcalf; and double bassist Louis Levitt. In an online interview with the music blog “The Glass,” Levitt explained the origins of the band’s name: “It’s a name from Greek mythology, from the town of Sybaris—the people of the town charmed their enemies by playing music, and it was also a very wealthy town. When we got together at the Aspen Music Festival, that seemed like a good name for us. It’s also the name of my grandfather’s boat.”
Sybarite5 has played a multitude of venues, including Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress and the Aspen Music Festival, as well as performances for the CBS Early Show and for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They’ve released several albums, the most recent of which is Everything In Its Right Place, a collection of Radiohead covers. The band stated that the purpose of the album was to capture Radiohead’s “spirit, creativity and edginess on acoustic string instruments.”
If you’ve heard of the Vitamin String Quartet and listened to their extensive covers of popular mainstream music, you probably have an idea of Sybarite5’s sound, a sound that isn’t typical for any chamber group. They don’t just play their instruments with passion; they engage themselves in their music, and play with an ease and energy that only comes from the heart.
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