Real Vocal String Quartet are not your typical string quartet. These four women from the Bay Area play a lot more than baroque and classical music. RVSQ came together with a mission to combine chamber music, improvising, composing, and singing. Their style of chamber music is all encompassing. On their latest record, Four Little Sisters, RVSQ perform their own stunning renditions of Regina Spektor’s “Machine,” Gilberto Gil’s “Copo Vazio,” Duke Pearson’s “Sweet Honey Bee,” David Byrne & Dirty Projector’s “Knotty Pine,” and more. While their arrangements of these songs are original and impressive, Irene Sazer and Alisa Rose prove they are terrific songwriters in their own right. Sazer wrote one of the standout tracks on the album, “Homage to Oumou,” which is a beautiful tribute to Oumou Sangare “The Songbird of Wassoulou” from Mali.
RSVQ’s chameleon-like ability to switch directions and playing styles makes them one of the most dynamic string quartets around today. Not only do they tackle a broad repertoire of music, but they are all fine singers. Their improvisational ability is uncanny and you feel a deep connection between the four performers when you hear their albums or see them in concert. They create a lot of sound out of four instruments, adding polyrhythmic percussive touches throughout. Violinist Irene Sazer, violinst Alisa Rose, violist Dina Maccabee, and cellist Jessica Ivry create a sound that is uniquely their own. RVSQ’s intuitive approach to songs and styles from West Africa, Brazil and rural America is compelling and engaging.
“We’re more of a coherent group now, and we put in a lot of time rehearsing. The pieces are very much in motion, and we always want to rearrange things, not just rehearse them. Pieces continue to change and evolve, which is an interesting aspect of our quartet.” – Alisa Rose
In addition to celebrating their new album, Real Vocal String Quartet has been selected to participate in the 2012-13 season of the American Music Abroad program, sponsored by American Voices and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Four Little Sisters is available now at record stores everywhere. To see this tight ensemble in action, watch Real Vocal String Quartet perform Irene Sazer’s composition “Oumou” below or on youtube. Check their tour dates to see when they will be in your area.