Black Dog String Quartet have recently unveiled their profoundly personal album, A Thousand Times Brighter, available on streaming platforms. This exceptional collection of nine new compositions is a testament to the quartet's skill and artistry, offering a multifaceted fusion of styles and themes that resonate with profound meaning.
The quartet, drawing from their vast reservoir of shared dreams and collective wisdom, delve into an array of musical genres, seamlessly weaving together contemporary classical, folk, fiddle music, and chamber pop. The result is an immersive experience, encapsulating the quartet's powerful artistic vision within a cohesive, emotion-packed narrative. A Thousand Times Brighter, carries listeners through a journey that is yearning, somber, graceful, and transcendent.
The quartet, comprising seasoned musicians, assumes a unique role on this album. They serve as the driving force, forming the energetic core of the music, while some tracks receive additional support from upright bass, drums, and brass instruments. The composition showcases their collective interests in contemporary composition, fiddle music, folk, and pop, incorporating recognizable pop forms alongside extended instrumental sections, unexpected textures, and extended string techniques. Elements are drawn from various musical traditions, including fiddle music, contemporary classical, Romantic-period art songs (notably German Lieder), contemporary folk, and the harmonious allure of Balinese gamelan.
The primary thematic material of the album centers around ecology and the natural world, offering a poignant exploration of specific Western Canadian landscapes, from the interior plateau to the coastal rainforest and the prairies. Interwoven with these natural landscapes are deeply personal reflections on mental health, intimacy, and dreams, creating a rich narrative tapestry.
During the production of "A Thousand Times Brighter," the Black Dog String Quartet faced a significant tragedy with the sudden and unexpected passing of their producer and engineer, Olivia Quan, at the age of just 25 due to natural causes. Olivia, a young audio engineering prodigy, had nearly completed mixing the album at the time of her passing, with her colleague, Tom Dobrzanski, stepping in to make the final adjustments. Olivia's colleagues and family established the Olivia Quan Award for Audio Excellence through Music BC in her memory, and the fees owed to her by the quartet were donated to this scholarship fund, supporting promising young engineers. "A Thousand Times Brighter" is dedicated to Olivia, and the olive tree imagery on the album cover serves as a touching homage to her, as Olivia's name means 'olive tree.'
The Black Dog String Quartet, formed in 2007, comprises some of Vancouver's finest musicians. Their impressive work can be heard on recordings of prominent artists such as 54-40, Marianas Trench, Bleeding Through, and many more. As individual members, they have graced stages with some of the world's top acts, including Rod Stewart, Kanye West, Sting, Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Video Games Live.
The quartet's exceptional musicianship has led them to collaborate with distinguished producers like Warne Livesey (Midnight Oil, The Matthew Good Band), Dave Genn (54-40), and Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad). Notable recent performances include opening for Sarah McLachlan at the SPC Global Conference, a concert with soprano Measha Brueggergosman at the Chan Centre, and an appearance at the Shambhala Music Festival.
Known for their performances filled with "conviction and imaginative sensitivity" (Vancouver Classical Music), the Black Dog String Quartet regularly takes the stage at a wide range of public and private events, including classical chamber concerts, weddings, and corporate functions, as well as contributing to film and television scores and various studio recordings. They have been featured at the Quartetti Festival of String Quartets, Sonic Boom Festival of New Music, and Classical Revolution Vancouver, and all four members frequently perform with multiple symphony orchestras.
With a solid classical foundation, exceptional skill, and a collective open-mindedness, the Black Dog String Quartet stands out as one of Vancouver's most unique and versatile ensembles. A Thousand Times Brighter marks their debut album of original material, a remarkable testament to their artistic journey.