The lights in the Meng Concert Hall at CSUF dimmed and murmurs from the audience faded away as a four-man ensemble, Quarteto Nuevo, took the stage.
Without a word, they picked up their instruments and guitarist, Kenton Youngstrom began to strum a distinct Spanish-sounding tune, transporting the audience into the cobblestone streets of Spain. The music swirled like a flamingo dancer’s dress, with each of the instruments’ notes flowing seamlessly into one another.
Damon Zick, saxophone player for the band and adjunct professor at CSUF, introduced the song he composed called, “Hector, Desmond and Titus” which sounded like it came off of Disney’s “Aladdin” soundtrack. The tinkling sounds flowing from Zicks’ saxophone sounded reminiscent of snake-charming music. As the song began to build, the tempo accelerated and slowed, and accelerated again, pulling the audience along for the ride.
“We’re all composers and we all like to bring our own compositions into the group, and then besides that, we’re very interested in visiting different parts of the world,” Zick said.
Jacob Szekely, the band’s cello player introduced “Rain Song,” which he composed after being inspired by the sound of a stormy night in Los Angeles. Szekely gently pulled the opening mournful tones from his instrument, filling the hall with an underlying jazz tune, painting a scene with every note played.
Solo dancer, Biliana Iontchev collaborated with Bill Cunliffe on a song accompanying the band on piano. Iontchev blended modern dance and ballet as she leaped, twirled and rolled across the stage.
Quarteto Nuevo played three more songs before introducing their seventh piece: an Eastern European folk-inspired song. Iontchev emerged midway through the melody and while her moves were fluid the timing of her entrance was not.
Following a short intermission, Felipe Fraga, the band’s percussionist, took a moment to explain the numerous instruments he had been playing throughout the first half of the show. This included the Peruvian drum, a wooden box with metal strings behind the front-facing panel, and what appeared to be a tambourine but was actually a Brazilian drum (fitting for Fraga who is from Brazil).
The band’s last song was accompanied by six CSUF dance students for Milcho Leviev’s “Women’s Dance,” which was choreographed by Debra Noble, director of dance and vice chair of the Theatre and Dance Department.
“It’s rare that we have a chance to collaborate across departments, so we actually got some support from the dean’s office. It’s very exciting to kind of work between the departments, because even though we share a building, we tend to remain fairly separate most of the time,” Zick said.
The dancers wore purple ombre costumes, which is a color often associated with unity and the women’s suffrage movement. They lifted one another up and even when moving apart, seemed to be moving together.
With hugs and thanks exchanged, the dancers and Quarteto Nuevo took their final bow of the night.