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Folk, pop collaborators highlight of Strings finale

— Strings in the Mountains wraps up its 14th season with a weekend of alternative country, folk, pop and chamber music ringing through the valley.

Betse Grassby, executive director of Strings, said it was by chance that Miami String Quartet, John Gorka and Lucy Kaplansky could all make it on the final weekend.

“Miami String Quartet is considered the greatest quartet in the country right now, and we’ll have two great folk, pop singers. I’ve been wanting them for a while,” Grassby said.



This evening’s Different Tempo celebrates male singer-songwriter Gorka and country folk singer Kaplansky in two performances that will intertwine and complement each other.

Gorka and Kaplansky have been longtime collaborators and each have a talented lineup on their latest albums: Ani DiFranco, Patty Larkin, Mary Chapin Carpenter on Gorka’s “The Company You Keep” and Buddy Miller, Duke Levine and Larry Campbell on Kaplansky’s “Every Single Day.”



Gorka’s eighth album describes how his relationships with people are progressing toward deeper connections. The company you keep either lifts one up or tears one down, either sustains one or is hazardous to one’s health, it said in Gorka’s news release.

The late 1970s brought Moravian College students Gorka to small neighborhood coffeehouses for avid music lovers. Although philosophy and history piqued his interests, Gorka became enlightened at the folk-strung acoustic music that resounded through the Godfrey Daniels institution.

Soon his musical influences became his peers.

Now he’s inviting those same influences on stage and in the studio with him. And one such talented guest is Kaplansky.

“We sang together 17 years ago and we’ve been singing together ever since,” Kaplansky said, adding they’ve actually sung together on and off throughout the years.

Just two weeks ago, Gorka and Kaplansky played together, and her voice is sincere when she says “it’s still a big treat.”

Kaplansky, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, has made a successful living writing from the heart and blending her musical talents with other guests around the world.

Starting out playing in Chicago bars and sharing the stage with friend Shawn Colvin, Kaplansky left it all to go to pursue a “real” job. But a deep moment of personal psychotherapy showed Kaplansky that she was running away from the things she wanted, and she gratefully returned to the music business.

Kaplansky said being a psychologist has matured her singing and songwriting as well as herself.

“It’s made me a more insightful and perceptive person. It changed me,” Kaplansky said, adding songs she’s written on “Every Single Day” mirror the experiences she endured dealing with mentally ill patients.

“It will be an incredible show. Her following is really taking off again,” Grassby said.

Saturday’s chamber music begins with a concerto for violin, piano and quartet, Op. 21 from 19th century composer Ernest Chausson featuring the Miami String Quartet, Robert Chen and Phillip Bush.

After the intermission comes a concerto in D Minor for two violins and strings, BWV 1043 from 17th and 18th century composer J.S. Bach featuring Ivan Chan and Chen.

Ending the grand finale is an introduction and allegro for strings, Op. 47 from 19th and 20th century composer Edward Elgar featuring Miami String Quartet and the Strings Chamber Orchestra.

Strings’ Chamber Orchestra features Chen, Michael Hanson, Debra Ellett, Thomas Hanulik, Sherry Hong, Betsy Lamb, Stacy Lesartre and Dorian Kincaid on violins; Yizhak Schotten, Catherine Hanson and Dina Maccabee on violas; Anne Martindale Williams and Eileen Brownell on cellos; and Dave Molina on bass.

The Miami String Quartet features Ivan Chan and Cathy Meng Robinson on violins, Chauncey Patterson on viola and Keith Robinson on cello.


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