In anticipation of our Fourth Annual Visionary Awards, to be presented to three outstanding up-and-coming Fort Worth artists in various disciplines, Rahr & Sons Brewing Company is crafting a special autumnal beer for us. But there’s a little problem. We don’t have a label. To remedy the situation, we’re calling on all artists to submit original pieces of previously unpublished artwork suitable for public consumption (no porn, no violence, no profanity) to appear on every bottle of Visionary Brew. Artists, keep in mind that Rahr’s logo and the Visionary Awards’ logo (the Egyptian eye with “FW”) also will appear on the label and will be added by Rahr during the final stages of production –– you do not need to incorporate the logos into your design.
You may enter as many original pieces as desired, and we encourage previous entries. There’s no entry fee, and submissions may be made by e-mailing a PDF of your artwork to Weekly associate editor Anthony Mariani at firstname.lastname@example.org or by delivering your materials by hand to the Weekly offices at 3311 Hamilton Ave., 76107. (All original materials will be cared for until picked up.)
Deadline for submissions is midnight, Friday, Mar. 14. Five finalists will be chosen by a committee of local curators, gallery owners, professional artists, educators, critics, and Rahr staffers, and the winning design will be chosen by Rahr founder and chairman Fritz Rahr at the Visionary Awards party on Thursday, Mar. 27, at Artspace 111 (111 Hampton St., downtown, 817-692-3228). –– Anthony Mariani
The Wyeth String Quartet is setting high standards in a field that has traditionally been underrepresented in Fort Worth’s piano-centric classical music scene. Since coming together in 2004, violist Laura Bruton, violinists Michael Shih and Adriana DeCosta, and cellist Leda Larson, who recently replaced co-founding member Karen Basrak, have maintained a steady schedule of concerts and educational programs all over Texas.
“The Wyeth has been a great addition to the musical scene in Fort Worth,” said John Forestner, president of the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth. “As a resident string quartet in our city, they have served us well, represented [Fort Worth] in places where chamber music isn’t often performed.”
The group’s repertoire is as varied as the musical taste of its members. Recent performances at the Arborlawn United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church of Harlingen have featured works ranging from Franz Schubert to Coldplay.
The Wyeth’s origins are deeply rooted in the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Featuring FWSO principal section leaders, the group originally were known as the Fort Worth Symphony String Quartet.
“We have always been friends, and the four of us have always worked well together,” FWSO first violinist Shih said. “We had been marketing ourselves as the principal strings of the FWSO. So it seemed only natural for us to start our own group.”
The quartet has had its share of setbacks. In 2011 FWSO musicians took a 15 percent pay cut after tense negotiations between union representatives and orchestra directors, threatening the Wyeth members’ primary sources of income. The following year, the quartet lost Basrak, who took a position in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
And then there have been the personal obstacles. Both Bruton and Shih have recently lost parents.
Rather than avoid their problems, the musicians said they have turned rehearsal time into an opportunity to open up to one another. Bruton said they have another word for these moments.
“We call it therapy,” she said. “We do a lot of non-musical stuff in that time.”
Shih credits their friendship with helping him recover from his mother’s death. “The love and support I received from this quartet was tremendous,” he said.
The small ensemble performances have professional benefits as well.
“It really makes a difference” at the FWSO, DeCosta said. “Guest conductors point out that we’re good problem solvers. It has paid off with our work with the symphony. The quartet offers an opportunity to explore our musical ideas, to express how we want to make music.”
Larson said that to play in the Wyeth, a musician must be agile and alert. “I don’t think there is anything like chamber music, and there’s no chamber music like the quartet,” she added.
“Plus, it’s just a lot of fun,” Bruton said. “I’ve always wanted to be in a string quartet, and now I finally am at 50 years old.”
Along with concerts, the rest of 2014 is booked with educational programs at the University of Texas at Arlington.
And a film score. Later this year, the Wyeth will perform and record the soundtrack to Heaven, a film directed by Arlington’s Ya’Ke Smith. The score was written by UTA composer Micah Hayes.
“The opportunity grew out of one of our concerts at UTA,” Shih said. “We have been visiting that campus pretty regularly. [Hayes] said, ‘I’ve got this project that I want to tell you about.’ He gave us some CDs and showed us the director’s previous movies. Because it’s about a ballet, it will involve quite a bit of music, so we’re onboard. We want to use one of our upcoming concerts to premiere some of the music.”
Bruton described the music as “wonderful, with a lot of movement” and very rhythmic.
The Wyeth String Quartet appears to be here to stay. “These three people have become my musical family,” DeCosta said. — Edward Brown