QuinTango is a love child, a result of my surrender to the most seductive music on the planet, tango music of the Rio de la Plata. Once exposed to the heart-wrenching harmonies, the soaring violin melodies, and the powerful lunges and rhythmic retreats of tango, I simply couldn't rest until I was making the magic happen myself. In 1995 I went public with my love of tango by creating the music group QuinTango - two violins, cello, bass and piano. I found the most passionate and personal performers I knew, cajoled them with tango sheet music for their music stands and cassette tapes for their car tape players (musicians spend most of their time in their cars) and waited for the spark to ignite. By the end of the year we had given our first concert. By the end of the next year we had started on our first CD project,'QuinTango.' Once it fell into the public's eager hands, things started to snowball.
QuinTango is now an internationally recognized touring tango quintet with three CDs and concert performances at the White House, the Kennedy Center, the Embassy of Argentina, the Organization of American States, the 9th and 12th International Music Festivals of Costa Rica and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. We won WAMMIE (Washington Area Music Association) awards the last two years for Best Chamber Music Group. We have done residencies twice in Appalachia with funding from the Virginia Arts Commission and next year we will do a 5-day residency in North Carolina's Outer Banks under the Chamber Music America Regional Residency Grant Program. Two years ago we developed a symphony pops program and have performed as soloists with the Charleston (SC) and Augusta (GA) symphonies and the Ars Flores Orchestra in Ft. Lauderdale. We will be performing with the Wichita Symphony in 2004. We toured Normandy, France, in 2002 under the auspices of the Caen-Alexandria Sister-City program. Last year we performed in Virginia, Maryland, Indiana, Washington, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Next year we will be in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida, North and South Carolina and Kansas (and maybe more). We are planning a tour including California, Hawaii and the Philippines for 2004-5. Our touring schedule is available on our web site, www.quintango.com. If we are in your neighborhood, please come see us. One of our traditions is meeting our audience in the lobby after the concert. We sign CDs, exchange stories and addresses and finally look into all those wonderful faces we couldn't see from the stage.
QuinTango has three target audiences: the concert-going public with little or no knowledge of tango, students from kindergarten through college, and the wonderful international community of tango lovers and dancers who know and love this repertoire. Outside our home base of D.C., most people come to QuinTango concerts because they are curious what the tango buzz is all about or because they have heard our music on the radio or because they loved Al Pacino in 'Scent of a Woman.' They come to us as 'tango virgins,' a responsibility we take seriously. We carefully introduce them to a variety of classic and new tangos, poetic lyrics recited in Spanish, and historic anecdotes about Carlos Gardel and Buenos Aires. By the end of the concert, the tango virgins have become tango lovers. The music of Anibal Troilo, Anselmo Aieta, Horatio Salgán, Astor Piazzolla and Julián Plaza has worked its magic. As they line up for CDs and autographs, the new tango converts are bursting with questions about how to get more tango into their lives. Where to take dance lessons? Where to hear music in Buenos Aires? What Piazzolla album to buy? When is QuinTango's next concert? I talk to women who cried during the concert, and men who claim their lives have suddenly been changed by the music. I leave the concert hall deliciously exhausted, feeling the power of music and the importance of the arts in everyday life.
Since our instrumentation is not the usual Argentine orchestra, we must arrange each piece in QuinTango's repertoire, or have an arranger do it for us. We have worked most often with two Washington composer/arrangers, Carmelo Pino, and Jim Kessler, who did our symphonic arrangements. On a trip to Buenos Aires in 2000, we met an amazing musician and wonderful pianist, the legendary Osvaldo Berlinghieri. Since that meeting, Maestro Berlinghieri has given us many wonderful arrangements, five of which we included on our most recent CD, 'To Buenos Aires with Love.'
One of the amazing things about QuinTango is the way it puts us in touch with both people from our past and strangers around the world who hear our music on the web and fall in love with it. If you fit either description, feel free to email us. I will list here the wonderful members of QuinTango's expanding family:
Violinists: founding members Joan Singer (that's me) and Rachel Schenker, Paula Akbar, Luisa Casasnovas (Winters), Eva Cappelletti-Chao,
Cellists: Irma Field Cripe (founding member), Jorge Espinoza, Aron Rider
Pianists: Bruce Steeg (founding member), Ron Chiles, Karen Davis, Jeffery Watson
Double Bass: Libby Blatt (founding member)
The first two CDs ('QuinTango' released in 1998 and 'Secret Places' released in 2000) feature the original quintet: Joan Singer, Rachel Schenker, Irma Cripe, Libby Blatt and Bruce Steeg. QuinTango also includes a beautiful composition by composer and bandoneonist Alex Muzio, who also performs on several cuts. The third CD, 'To Buenos Aires with Love,' released in 2003, features Joan Singer, Paula Akbar, Jorge Espinoza, Libby Blatt and Bruce Steeg, as well as guest bandoneonist Daniel Diaz.