NC Symphony String Quartet delights crowd in Nags Head

Published 12:06 pm Thursday, February 2, 2023

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The North Carolina Symphony String Quartet delighted the crowd at last Monday’s performance at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Nags Head.

The concert was sponsored by the Don and Catharine Bryan Cultural Series and offered to the public free of charge.

The hourlong performance featured the musical talents of David Kilbride on the violin, Anton Shelepov on the violin, Amy Mason on the viola and Lisa Shaughnessy on the cello.

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Guests of all ages filled the large room, with few seats to spare. The program opened at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary with the well-known Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 1 in F Major, Op. 18, allegro con brio.

Though the quality of the performance was top rate, the mood was casual and conversational, even lighthearted and humorous at times. Six pieces were performed, varying in style.

The second piece was the most modern – a winsome version of Amazing Grace by John Newton and arranged by composer Jennifer Higdon.

Kilbride narrated throughout the evening and, for the third piece, encouraged the youth in the audience to count the number of times the melody was played during Mozart’s Divertimento in F Major, allegro, andante and presto.

The winner, who correctly chose five, was then invited up to the front to participate in a game for the fourth piece played, Haydn’s String Quartet in F Major, Op. 3, No. 5, andante cantabile “Serenade.”

As the song began, the impressive young lady was asked to place a hat on the head of the person who was playing the melody. As the tempo picked up, she ran from person to person, moving the hat. The song culminated in a hilarious point when all four performers played the melody together.

Continuing the creative performance, Mason explained to the audience how special effects can be achieved using stringed instruments, like using the stick side of the bow instead of the horse hair, or placing fingers lightly on the strings instead of pushing all the way down, creating a “creepy” sound that Mason said the school kids enjoy. She explained techniques like trill, cassando, ponticello and tremolo, and then put them all together for the fifth piece, Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major, Assez vif – tres rhythme.

The final piece was well chosen, Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96, entitled “American,” Finale: Vivace ma non troppo. The performers showed off the fullness of their abilities in the emotionally rich and powerful piece, evoking beauty, optimism and goodness.

At the conclusion of the show, the audience erupted in a standing ovation. The performers then graciously stayed to greet guests and pose for photos.

We were thrilled with the performance – by the outstanding musicians of the North Carolina symphony,” said Bob Muller, vice president of the Don and Catharine Bryan Cultural Series. “We were especially pleased with the attendance and involvement with the students from the Hatteras Community Strings program,” a new community string group who all sat up front together and enjoyed the performance.

Muller said the organization “had no idea what to expect” as far as attendance. “Seventy-five would have been a good number. We would have been happy with 100.” But with the event bringing in 220, Muller said they were thrilled.

“It was a wonderful thing to have in the middle of January,” he added.

For upcoming events in the Bryan Cultural Series, visit