Sunday, May 11, 2008

Interview With Danel Wood of Quadre

As part of an assignment I had the opportunity to interview Daniel Wood from the horn quartet Quadre.  I found the answers to be very informational and useful to anyone who is interested in starting a professional chamber group:

1. How do you book concerts? Do you have a management service or do it on your own and what
are the main difficulties?
QUADRE is a self-managed ensemble. Our strategy for booking concerts is two fold.
First, we have a series of home concerts we produce in the San Francisco Bay Area where we are
based. We usually present 3 to 4 home concert series a year. Venues for these series include
one or more of the following: performing art centers, community music schools, churches, and
private homes. These events give us a chance to regularly connect with our local supporters.
They also give us the opportunity to try new things out programmatically.
Second, we set up tours around the country. They usually last from 7-10 days although we were
once on the road for a whole month. We find presenters – those that book us for concerts –
through booking conferences and associations (Western Arts Alliance, Chamber Music America),
our online research of venues in different geographic areas, and our own personal contacts.
Both of these strategies take a great deal of work. We are a nonprofit organization with 4 artists,
one paid staff-person (myself), 4 volunteers, and a board of directors made up of 7 citizens from
the community. In regards to booking concerts, the volunteers and I construct the tours (contracts,
travel), manage the books, and handle the fundraising/development. The board helps ensure the
long-term health of the organization and maintain its financial stability. Administratively, the artists
organize and decide the programming, contribute potential leads and contacts, and help out as
needed (grants, artistic partnerships.)
Of the two strategies above, the first one is contingent on being open to potential partnerships and
collaborations. Most of this work is made possible due to revenue from contributed (grants and
personal appeals) and earned sources (ticket sales and performance fees.) For the second
strategy of tours, most of our revenue comes from performance fees with a little supplemental
income coming from merchandise sales (sheet music and CDs).
The main difficulty with both of these core activities is finding the partners and clients to make them
possible. After ten years in the business, it is easier although it is still a constant challenge.
2. What different players have you had in the quartet?
Here is the list of the primary horn players involved in the group since 1998. There have also been
substitutes, associate members, and extra horn artists (aka 5th and 6th horn players.) For the
purposes of not making this list too ridiculous, I have left them out. However, I do feel strongly that
everyone who has been involved in QUADRE has made it what it is today.
Daniel Wood 1998-Present
Harold Aschmann 1998-1999
Eric Thomas 1998-2000
Melissa Hendrickson 1998-2001
Armando Castellano 1999-2002
Carrie Campbell 2000-2005
Meredith Brown 2001-2006
Mathew Reynolds 2003-2005
Alex Camphouse 2005-2006
Nathan Pawelek 2005-Present (Subbed from 2003-2005)
Jessica Valeri 2006-2008
Lydia Van Dreel 2007-Present
Amy Jo Rhine 2008-Present
3. Do you have a member who is the leader/decision maker?
Being the only member that has been with the group since the beginning, I (Daniel Wood) act as
the leader and decision maker for most of the artistic and management decisions. However, no
artistic decision is made without all the artists in the group being informed and providing input.
4. How do you solve artistic differences during rehearsals?
Everyone in the group respects the talent and insight that we each bring to the ensemble. We
handle all issues professionally giving each idea a chance to be heard. When we have a
disagreement about which idea to do, we usually go with the consensus or the idea felt most
passionately. We have also tried out multiple ideas in several performances. Audience reaction
can be a great way to measure the success of an idea.
5. How many concerts do you perform a year?
This has varied considerable over the years. We have performed full-time during two seasons
(1999-2000; 2001-2002). Each of those seasons had over 250 performances. Other years have
had as few as 15 concerts. In the 2007-2008 season, we performed over 30 concerts with
approximately 100 services total (concerts, rehearsals, outreach, and lectures.)
6. What made you want to create a horn quartet and what do you like about chamber music?
The inspiration for starting QUADRE comes from the male vocal quartets of the 50s and 60s. I am
a huge fan of the Four Freshman, The Four Aces, The Four Lads, and in particular, the Hi-Los.
The sound that those groups got in their recordings was fascinating to me. I wondered whether it
would be possible to do something similar with a group of like instruments.
With chamber music being my favorite class in college, I helped put together a variety of
ensembles: brass quintets, woodwind quintets, and horn quartets. I really liked the sonic potential
of the horn quartet. After leaving college, I started a horn club so we could play new music for the
genre. After a few months, it became clear that four of us wanted to make a go of it as a quartet.
The rest is history.
As for why I like chamber music, I think the ability to make music in a small group is exhilarating.
The four of us get to make all of the artistic decisions. And you know that each of you account for
25% of what is happening on stage. It is also a medium where there is nowhere to hide when you
perform. I also really enjoy how we can connect so personally with our audience. They get to
know our personalities and we, to a degree, get to know them as well through after concert
discussions, home-stays, and communications (email and letters).
7. What rehearsal techniques do you find most useful when learning new music?
Individually, we study the scores, work a great deal with the metronome and, if available, listen to
live recordings / computer renditions. In the group setting, we find singing our parts very useful
and being sensitive to all the markings the composer has written (tempi, articulations, dynamics,
8. What are the future goals of Quadre?
In the short term, we intend on recording two more albums in August. We have two recordings
currently: The Voice of Four Horns (2000) and Citrus (2005). We will build on the success of our
domestic touring and home concerts by continuing to collaborate with different musicians and
artists. We also plan on touring internationally more in the future.
9. What has been the most rewarding aspect of being part of Quadre?
For me, it is getting my music performed at such a high level by my fabulous colleagues. It is also
very rewarding to see the group continue to thrive after ten years.
10. I noticed you have a blog and myspace page. How important do you think using the latest
communication outlets is to being a viable quartet?
Connecting with our audience is a critical part of our organization. Our blog and myspace page is
a part of our overall marketing and communication strategy which includes: conferences,
advertisements, merchandise (CDs, Sheet Music, Posters, Apparel), newsletters (email & mailed),
our website, online networking (myspace, blog,, etc.) and so on. Having a strong online
presence is another way to get your message out about who you are and what you do.
11. Anything else you would want me to know/present about Quadre that is not on your website?
I consider and think of the other members in the quartet as family. I care deeply for each of them
and their well-being. We are all very interested in what each of our families are up to (especially
the kids) and talk to each other regularly about all sorts of things above and beyond the artistic and
management concerns of the quartet. Because we have a strong bond with each other, I think our
music is always very present and in the moment. We feel passionately about each other and bring
that same passion to our music.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


What blog on non-western instruments can be complete without discussion of the Hebrew shofar?  The shofar, similar to the previously mentioned Kudu, is made from the horn of the Ibex it is still in use as part of Jewish ceremonies.  Although it is on the fringe of Western culture, it is still exotic religious enough to most Americans that I thought it should have some mention here.  There are many versions of the instrument of different sizes and designs is use today(many now have finger holes), but the original instrument was the unaltered horn of the Ibex.  You can read more about them here.

This website has a lot of resources for people interested in world music. I have used it to find pictures and information for a few of my posts. ASZA is a performing chamber group that specializes in learning world music from many different cultures. Their website has profiles of major world music groups, recording for purchase, instruments for purchase, a calendar of major world music events, instrument picture gallery, and much more. You can visit their site here.

Kudu Horns

I can't believe I forgot about Jeff Agrell's kudu horns. Pictured is a Kudu, a type of Gazelle, and the instruments made from their horns. The set Jeff has is pitched in E pentatonic (each horn plays one note). The highest pitched horn has a finger hole so that it will play two notes. These horns are played all over Africa and are usually used in a rhythmic hocket texture often accompanying a marimba.   You can read more about them as well as some other African instruments here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

National Music Museum

The University of South Dakota houses the National Music Museum. Their website is home to more information on instruments than you would ever want or need to know including an index by location and manufacturer. I highly recommend taking a look.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gangbe` Brass Ensemble

The Gangbe` Brass Ensemble is a fusion brass ensemble that combines jazz with the traditional folk music of Benin (a small country in Africa in between Nigeria and Togo). It was founded in 1994 by 8 jazz musicians who wanted to experiment was traditional folk music. The music incorporates brass, vocals, and percussion. They have released 3 albums and have toured worldwide.  You can read more about them here and here.

Guca: Serbian Brass Band Festival

Every year a small villiage in Serbia holds a brass festival. You can read more about it here. The music on the website is quite amazing.  This year the festival is August 6 through the 10th. This is a video of some of the festivities from the festival in 2007.