Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Quartet alert

Nick writes from the US to inform us of this disturbing development in the life of a fine string quartet:

AUDUBON QUARTET Members About to Lose Instruments. If you follow chamber music, you probably know of the Audubon Quartet, founded 30 years ago, it was the first US string quartet to win international competitions. In the year 2000, though, three of the quartet's members fired the first violinist for behavior incompatible with the concept of a closely knit ensemble -- he had told the others that he'd initiated two lawsuits agains the cellist (and original founder) Tom Shaw.Upon being fired, though, David Ehrlich filed a series of lawsuits against the three and against the quartet as a corporation. One was thrown out, but somehow, he won a judgement against the other three, and now, more than five years later, they are about to lose their instruments and other worldly possessions. It is a grim story. The quartet was in residence at Virginia Tech in 2000. After the lawsuits, the university let their contracts expire (but has since re-hired the violinist). Now members of the community in Blacksburg are trying to get the university to step in and make Ehrlich cease his actions against the others. You can read all about this at , the website created by community members. There is also a petition you can sign there.I think this is a matter of interest to all of us who love classical music and especially to the community of players in ensembles small and large.

Nick sent this originally as a comment on a previous post, but it merits a section to itself. I'm afraid I have not heard about this before and I don't know the ins and outs of the background and history, but please explore the link. Litigation culture run mad? Or classic string quartet acrimony meets the 21st century? Oh yes, classic. If you think orchestral life is stressful, just try being in a string quartet. Stories from the orchestras can be 'hair-raising', but with quartets, 'blood-curdling' doesn't begin to describe it.