Fiddler Darol Anger performs near Harrisburg, PA with the Republic of Strings

Fiddler Darol Anger performs with the Republic of Strings

Darol Anger is considered one of the most innovative fiddlers performing today. He got his start as a bluegrass fiddler, but has since explored many genres and played in a variety of configurations during a career that has spanned over 35 years. He is best known as a founding member of two groundbreaking groups the David Grisman Quintet and the Turtle Island String Quartet. He fiddling can be heard every week on the theme song of NPR’s“Car Talk”.

These days Darol is heading up a new group called The Republic of Strings. This band is built on the idea that there is a nation of string players and string enthusiasts people who love string band music from all over the world and who set no boundaries and make no distinction between musical styles.

The Republic of Strings will be heading to the midstate for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society sponsored performance on Sunday, October 31st. The concert will be held at 7:30 pm at the Camp Hill United Methodist Church. Concert attendees can expect a nice mix of instrumentals and vocals from different folk traditions including bluegrass, gospel, blues, old-time and well as jazz and other contemporary sounds. The Republic of Strings will also be joined on a few numbers by members of the Wednesday Club Youth Chamber Orchestra.

 I interviewed Darol to learn more about his career and his new band.

 Q: What aspects of bluegrass music appealed most to you?

A. I guess that bluegrass music was the first music that I ever got serious about. It was music that had a strong tradition and kind of a lure. It’s as easy and as difficult to play as Mozart.

 Q. You started playing with Grisman in 1974. How long did you play with that band?

A. I played with them for 9 years and during that time we did just about everything that we set out to do including playing Carnage Hall, twice, and got some real recognition for what we did.

Q. And what about your association with the Turtle island String Quartet?

A. In 1985 I got together with violinist David Balakrishnan. David had a lot of compositional knowledge and great harmonic grasp and was writing very amazing, new beautiful material. So we thought, wow, we should start of string quartet that actually does improvise and play contemporary music because no one else was doing that.

Q. So, tell me about the Republic of Strings

A. The group is very creative—people who sing very well and write very well. Basically we’re covering a pretty wide swath of the evolution of the string band. The group is like a string quartet in a way except the guitar replaces the viola and the cello acts more like a bass or even a drum.

 Q. The Wednesday Club Youth Chamber Orchestra will be joining you on stage for several numbers. Tell me how this came about?

When I was working with Turtle Island I realized that most of that music could be expanded to larger groups. I’ve been working on orchestrations that introduce students to different styles while giving them something fun to play. The Wednesday Club Youth Chamber Orchestra will rehearse first with their conductor Vera Volchansky. During my time with them we’ll work on playing with a lot of rhythm and playing very freely.

 Jess Hayden is the Executive Director of the Susquehanna Folk Society. For more information on this concert please visit www.sfmsfolk.org

Written by Jess Hayden and published in The Burg Magazine, October 2010

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