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Music in the night

Town center's free concert will feature a string quartet

A group of musicians in the quartet performing at last year’s Classics by Candlelight. This year’s event will be held at the Town Center’s Black Box Theatre.

The Voorhees Art Commission will present a Classics by Candlelight free concert on at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at the Town Center.

Set against the backdrop of the intimate Black Box Theatre on the first floor of the center, the concert will feature the sounds of the South Garden Strings Quartet. Comprised of musicians Jaress Loo and Robert Bradshaw on violin, Madison Perry on viola and Carolina Hooper on cello, the group blends contemporary classics with beloved traditional pieces.

“All of the musicians with South Garden Strings play in a group called the South Jersey Pops orchestra,” said Loo, who explained that the Town Center reached out to the quartet last year to play at its inaugural candlelight concert.

“We were delighted,” he recalled. “It’s always great to play music, especially for an organization whose goal is to further the local arts community.”

Loo added that concert attendees can expect a program with a diverse selection of music and instruments.

“A string quartet is made up of four musicians – two violinists, one violist and one cellist,” he noted. “Expect to hear some traditional classical string-quartet pieces that you might hear at a wedding reception, but also some more modern and highly recognizable pieces as well, even one piece that you might be surprised could be pulled off by only four instruments.

“String quartets have historically been highly focused on classical music, with hundreds of pieces written,” Loo added. “Luckily, we’re not playing all of them in an hour. You’ll hear a few movements from a string quartet by Schubert, an entire Mozart string quartet, a few tango pieces, some jazz pieces and … it’s May 4, so it wouldn’t be complete without “Star Wars.”

Loo reflected on the significance of music at community events and its impact.

“Music in general joins and bonds people together,” he noted. “All four of us have different interests, personalities, hobbies, etc., outside of playing in this string quartet, but when we come together to play music, we’re united in one goal.

“Similarly when an audience is there to hear it, they’re part of that, too,” Loo added. “Music is powerful, and being able to share it together with people in our community, it makes the community stronger.”

Concert producer Gabrielle Horvitz also touched on the significance of bringing the community together through the arts.

“We have a community full of arts lovers in all forms,” she pointed out. “It is a great, beautiful way to come together one evening to listen to and celebrate beautiful music by candlelight.”

Horvitz also cited the quartet’s suitability for the concert, noting a diverse repertoire that appeals to a wide audience.

“They pick a great mix of music for their performance,” she said. “Some classics and some beloved more common songs, but they incorporate some education in all the pieces so the audience understands what they are listening to.

“The audience can expect to hear some beautiful music by candlelight of contemporary classics and some more traditional classics they know, and learn about some pieces they have never known.”

Horvitz emphasized that Classics by Candlelight aligns with the mission and goals of the Voorhees Art Commission by promoting arts and culture in the community and fostering an appreciation for music. It’s also an opportunity to showcase local talent and engage residents in cultural experiences.

Horvitz also wanted to create a memorable and inclusive event; that involved securing a suitable venue and coordinating with musicians and volunteers.

“Access to art and cultural events is crucial for the Voorhees community,” she said, “as it enriches lives, fosters creativity and promotes cultural understanding.”

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