Four string musicians are working to change the image of classical music.
Well-Strung, an all male group seamlessly blends the most accomplished historical composers with current Top 40 artists.
The New York-based quartet, formed after their manager Mark Cortale saw one of the violinists playing on the street in Provincetown, Mass., has been garnering national attention for its ambitious vocal and instrumental arrangements.
Edmund Bagnell, one of three violinists in the group, said the main goal is to mash classical and pop in new and unexpected ways.
“When people picture classical music they get a very specific image. Powered wigs and elaborate costumes,” Bagnell said. “So we’re trying to show the range of classical music. That it’s not just this one thing, but a wide range of music.”
Just like their music, each member represents a very different part of America that all ended up in the country’s melting pot, New York City. Bagnell grew up in South Carolina, the other two violinists, Chris Marchant and Trevor Wadleigh were raised in Ohio and Kent, Wash., respectively, and cellist Daniel Shevlin spent most of his life in New Jersey.
While the last tour’s pop songs featured mostly hits from female artists, this tour, with a stop at Seattle’s Neptune Theatre on Nov. 8, will include a wider variety of chart toppers, Bagnell said.
That doesn’t mean the group will stop performing songs by Rihanna, Adele, Madonna or Britney Spears.
“There’s something freeing about being four guys singings songs by women because there’s less expectations about how the song should sound,” he said. “We have four very different voices, but we can certainly harmonize and it allows us to play an ever larger range of songs.”
The group is also evolving theatrically, Bagnell said. In Well-Strung’s early days, each member of the group would tell stories about themselves in between songs. Some were anecdotal, relating to the song they had just played or the one they were about to, while others were mini speeches about one of their passions.
Most of it, however, was made-up, scripted weeks before.
“We started as more of a theater group and now we’re more of a band,” Bagnell said. “We’d tell fake stories while using our own names. There wasn’t a ploy exactly, but there was a theatrical quality to it.”
Now, instead of reciting monologues, the group shares it’s own experiences between songs.
“We each talk about topics that are important to us,” he said. “Sometimes its a composer or a particular song we like, other times it’s a general topic, but nothing too deep or heavy.”
Tickets for the 8 p.m., show Saturday, Nov. 8, are $33.50. For more information visit www.stgpresents.org.