Photo by James Dong
StringQuake is a trio featuring Amelia Romano on harp, Misha Khalikulov on cello, and Josh Mellinger on percussion. They play music from a lot of different places and cultures, and with groups who do that it gets tempting to call it “world music”. Resist the urge! While they certainly play music from around the world, they’ve successfully avoided the anonymous character that necessarily comes from democratically sampling surface details of traditional musics. Moreover, the players are also educators, teaching these various kinds of music in San Francisco, and their knowledge of them runs deep.
They specifically make note of music from the Americas, Greece, Africa, India, and Europe, whether in arrangements or as influence in their original pieces. They’re playing this Friday at de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco at 7:15pm, as part of their Friday Nights at the de Young series. Best of all, it’s free!
While drawing from specific styles of music, StringQuake has a consistency of approach and aesthetic that is welcoming. Improvisation plays a large role for them, both in the pieces they choose to arrange and the music they create themselves. Groove is a key element, though the grooves they find are a little less forthcoming, being that the instrumentation is spare and the music is often traveling through less common time signatures. A word that often comes to mind when listening to them is “searching”. While the destinations they find are thoroughly interesting, the journey is what attracts me to it the most.