Opus 4 String Quartet was formed in January of 2015 by string section principals of ECHO (Energy Corridor of Houston Orchestra) for the purpose of participating in chamber concerts sponsored by the orchestra. Opus 4 played concerts at Bridge Point Bible Church, and Green Planet Sanctuary in Houston’s Energy Corridor, as well the Bernhardt Winery in Plantersville, Texas, and right away their desire to perform led them to independently seek other opportunities, with the idea of bringing interesting, eclectic and entertaining chamber music in a casual atmosphere (often including a running dialogue with the audience) to non-traditional settings. The Opus 4 players are Pablo Donatti and Janis Garcia, violin; Don Burell, viola; and Nancy Francis, cello.
The quartet has acquired a varied repertoire, ranging from Vivaldi, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven to music composed in the last decade. Their standard quartet repertoire includes Dvorak’s “American” quartet, Beethoven’s Opus 18 No. 4, Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden,” the Villa Lobos Quartet No. 1, Aaron Copland’s “Two Pieces for String Quartet,” and Mozart’s G Major and “Dissonant” Quartets.
Opus 4 has performed film music, notably the Psycho Suite by Bernard Herrmann, arranged for quartet by Richard Birchall, accompanied by a slide show of the film’s most stirring moments. George Gershwin’s work “Promenade” or “Walking the Dog” from the 1937 Fred Astaire – Ginger Rogers film “Shall We Dance” is also included in their film music repertoire, along with Astor Piazzolla’s “Tango Ballet” and “Libertango.”
The 21st century has also been an important source of repertoire for the quartet with performances of String Quartet No 16 (Popular Songs Without Words) by New York composer Stephen Dankner, “Fast Blue Village 2” by Australian composer Elena Kats-Cherning, and “A Revelatory Place” by Houston composer Ken Booker. The group recently premiered a movement from Bruce Leon’s string quartet at the Houston Tuesday Musical Club with violinist Richard Baum.
Opus 4 enjoys collaborating with other artists. Houston mezzo-soprano Allison Greene performed Handel and Mozart arias with the quartet, as well as the incredibly beautiful Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by Villa Lobos. Violist Erika Lawson joined the group for Mozart’s String Quintet No. 3 at Opus 4’s First Annual Mozart Festival at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Northwest Houston.