Del Sol String Quartet
Sam Weiser, violin; Benjamin Kreith, violin; Charlton Lee, viola; Kathryn Bates, cello
Jonah Gallagher Ghosts of Grass
Erika Oba Halcyon
Rajna Swaminathan Borne
Julius Eastman Gay Guerilla
Del Sol began as a thought on the night shift at Fermilab. Charlton Lee loved the cutting edge of physics research – always looking for the next discovery, pushing boundaries. But he missed the way music connected people, building community by communicating in ways physics never would. What if he could bring that scientific passion for exploration to a string quartet?
Twenty-six years later, Del Sol is still sharing music that brings out the endorphins. Music that asks why not?
Fascinated by the feedback loop between social change, technology, and artistic innovation, the San Francisco-based ensemble is a leading force in 21st century chamber music – whether introducing Ben Johnston’s microtonal Americana at the Library of Congress, taking Aeryn Santillan’s gun-violence memorial to the streets of the Mission District, exploring Andean soundscapes with Gabriela Lena Frank and traditional musicians, or collaborating with Huang Ruo and the anonymous poets who carved their words into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station during the years of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The current Del Sol lineup, marked by the arrival of violinist Sam Weiser alongside mainstays Kathryn Bates and Ben Kreith, bring a fresh energy, freedom, and precision to the group.
Recognized as a “vigorous champion of living composers”, Del Sol has premiered hundreds of works by composers including Terry Riley, Gabriela Lena Frank, Frederic Rzewski, Ben Johnston, Chinary Ung, Mason Bates, Tania León, Erberk Eryilmaz, Theresa Wong, Reza Vali, Mohammed Fairouz and Peter Sculthorpe.
Many of these works are included on Del Sol’s nine critically-acclaimed albums. PopMatters praised Del Sol’s “unfettered mastery” on Terry Riley’s Dark Queen Mantra (2017, Sono Luminus). Scrapyard Exotica (2015) elicited this rave in The New York Times: “I could be wrong, but I’m guessing it’s been a while since you’ve rocked out to a string quartet recording. See if your foot can stay still once you put on this funky disc of rhythmically infectious (if often warped) music played by the adventurous Del Sol String Quartet.”
With its deep commitment to education, Del Sol has reached thousands of K-12 students through inventive school performances, workshops, coaching, and residencies. The Quartet members also have worked closely with student composers, musicians and faculty artists at universities across the country.