Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The Dima Quartet, made up of Miranda Weinberg ’09 and Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten ’09 on violins, Twan Claiborne ’07 on viola, and Harrison Russin ’09 on cello, will be performing this Sunday, April 9, in the Lang Concert Hall at 7:30, presenting a recital composed of Shostakovich’s Quartets Nos. 7, 15, and 12.
The Dima Quartet, whose name comes from Shostakovich’s own nickname (Dima is the diminutive form of Dmitri), have been working on these pieces since December. The group selected Shostakovich as a composer that all four were interested in. Last semester, the group performed Shostakovich’s 7th Quartet, this will be included in Sunday’s program, as well as two other favorites of the group.
When asked to describe Shostakovich, all four have much to say. Harrison Russin explains that Shostakovich’s music is, “Intense, playful-” Miranda Weinberg adds, “Sarcastic at times, but not as ‘out there’ as much of twentieth century music.” Russin concurs, explaining that Shostakovich differs in that “His music has direction, he expands on the themes of earlier composers.”
Twan Claiborne observes, “A lot of the music that he has written is very emotional. He wrote it in response to horrific events, the Holocaust, the World Wars Ãƒâ€°it’s a lot of boom-boom-boom. It leaves you kind of confused: even though, sometimes, you think that it’s a happy ending, that’s not the intention.”
Working on such intensely emotional pieces has been challenging to the group. “It’s been tiring,” states Miranda Weinberg. “But I think it will be really rewarding.” Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten adds, “Having the emotional variation helps.” The pieces range from light to dark, dances to funeral marches. The second movement is “sweeping and expansive,” says Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten, while the fifteenth, written in commemoration of Shostakovich’s first wife, is “exhausted and reflective.”
The group has a wonderful dynamic. Over the course of the year, Harrison Russin observes, “Our playing has become more precise.” Their camaraderie is clear from their energy and enthusiasm, despite hours of intense rehearsing and practicing. “We never argue,” says Twan Claiborne. Miranda Weinberg reflects, “It helps that we can all laugh together.”
What can the audience expect on Sunday night? Twan Claiborne affirms: “It’s going to be fun. It’s gonna be an emotional rollercoaster. It’ll make you think, be happy, sad, angry, confusedÃƒâ€° all of those if you’re willing to open yourself up to it.”