Interview with Jessica Bodner, violist and founding member of the Parker Quartet:
UChicago Presents: The Quartet has an impressive track record of collaborations with a variety of artists such as Augusta Read Thomas, Jörg Widmann, and Vijay Iyer. Has it always been a collective group ethic to seek out these collaborations, or has that tendency emerged over the group’s lifetime?
Jessica Bodner: We’ve always taken collaborations really seriously, and collaborations for us are a chance to find meaningful relationships with people outside of the quartet. One of the best things about being in a quartet is that we get to devote our lives to each other and to the quartet repertoire, but these collaborations are a huge perk as well. We feel that there aren't a whole lot of other ways to get to know somebody as well as to play music with them – you get to know them so quickly on such a personal level, to rehearse and to play music together. So it's a really great opportunity to be able to delve this really wonderful repertoire with people that that can bring different ideas and fresh perspectives and new kinds of inspiration that we that we wouldn't get on a daily basis just from being in a quartet.
UCP: The Parker Quartet is joined by two stellar musicians, Richard O’Neill and Edward Arron, to present the works for string sextet on this program – Brahms’s Sextet No. 2 in G Major and the String Sextet from Strauss’s Capriccio. How did you come to work with these collaborators?
JB: When we were thinking about potential collaborators for the coming years, Richard O'Neill is somebody who really popped into our mind because he's somebody that we've known for quite a while now. Daniel Chong, the first violinist in the Parker Quartet, actually plays in an ensemble with him in South Korea called the DITTO Festival, and we’ve been a guest at the festival a few times at Richard’s invitation. So we really wanted to have a chance to explore collaboration further for audiences in the U.S., too.
And so we were thinking of different ideas and then the idea of doing sextets including Ed Arron came up because we actually didn't know Aaron that well until recently, although we're so excited to get to know him. Our paths have circled each other a lot, but we never seemed to be connect until we approached him about putting together this program. We’ve always really admired his work and his playing, so it just seemed like a really exciting fit to explore this relationship that we've had with Richard while also including Ed at the same time. So we really built this program and chose this repertoire around these collaborators and the artistry they bring to the table.