If you happened on the holiday classic In the good old Summertime recently, you might have noticed a scene where the great Buster Keaton trips and shatters what he thinks is a precious Stradivarius. Fortunately, it’s only a movie. Even more fortunately, those lucky enough to nab tickets for tonight’s concert in the Coolidge Auditorium can celebrate the holidays with a life more wonderful than the movies. This evening, as it has since 1936, the Library of Congress remembers Antonio Stradivari with a memorial concert on the anniversary of his death, played on several of the Library’s precious Strads.
This year we welcome The Parker Quartet to our hallowed stage. During a break in rehearsals yesterday, I asked the members of the quartet how it felt to play a piece of history. Interestingly, two of them hit on similar metaphors without hearing the other’s comments:
Daniel Chong, playing the “Betts” violin: I see instruments as being like people, and playing an instrument is like meeting a new person. And these instruments are absolutely beautiful and gorgeous — they have such vitality and life in them. One thing I was struck by when I picked them up is how great a condition these instruments were in as well. The amount of ring in these instruments is incredible – I feel like I’m going deaf with the amount of ring! It’s been a great pleasure and a great opportunity, like a dream come true.