Chicago Q Ensemble has a big concert coming up this Saturday night — you should come! — and we’re getting excited for it, big time. This morning at 8, the ladies of the string quartet were sipping our coffees (isn’t it great that we string players can do this?) and putting the finishing touches on Barber’s wonderful (and only) string quartet.

It’s so interesting to play this piece in its quartet version, after years of hearing the famous Adagio for Strings, which is an arrangement of the second movement for string orchestra. It’s a completely different and more daunting creature when you take away the conductor and divvy up all those pitches among only four players. One of my conductors used to joke that people show up to quartet performances of this piece just to see your bow arm shake!

It’s quite a feeling to put on your own concert. I remember waiting in the wings for Chicago Q’s very first house concert and thinking to myself, “What the hell are we doing?!” Our training as classical players often encourages us to wait until everything is absolutely perfect before we DARE show it in public. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of people never feel like they’re good enough to share their music with others (and they’re usually wrong). It takes balls to quiet critical voices and put your work out there. We’ve been inspired by a lot of brave Chicago music groups who do this all the time. And we’ve also been fortunate to find an encouraging, diverse musical community that supports our efforts. Go team! Here’s to more concerts, joyfully given and received.