“One of their appeals is that they’re relatively young, hip guys from Brooklyn, so students realize that musicians don’t have to be these intimidating figures,” Shackelford said. “Musicians are actually just these really cool dudes with passionate ideas.”
Nicholas Cords, who plays viola for the quartet, said the idea for Sunday’s performance originated with Emil Kang, UNC’s executive director for the arts.
The quartet has also been rehearsing with special guest and Grammy award-winning singer Dawn Upshaw. The concert will include music that spans about 500 years, ranging in music from Elizabethan England to music written as recently as last week.
This isn’t the first time the quartet has rehearsed its pieces on campus before performances.
“A number of new projects and pieces were born here, and since they grow up in front of faculty and students with feedback, it feels like they’re well-tested,” said quartet violinist Colin Jacobsen.
Brooklyn Rider’s idea for its newest project, “Almanac,” was also conceived in Chapel Hill. Cords said the group started thinking about the project while on campus, and involved faculty and students in the process. The project now has a Kickstarter campaign that has raised more than $17,000.
Shackelford said he thinks Brooklyn Rider has such a good relationship with the community in Chapel Hill because both the student body and audience are willing to embrace the group’s journey through challenging pieces.
“That’s something that Rider really values — that pushing against boundaries and genres, and this is a place where the students, the faculty and the community are appreciative of that,” he said.
Johnny Gandelsman, Brooklyn Rider’s other violinist, said that he appreciated the continuous relationship the group has with the University.
“It’s good to travel around and play in new places, but it’s great to come back to the same place,” Gandelsman said. “So coming on the stage on Sunday will feel at once both very familiar and very exciting.”