by Carole Verona
The Elegance String Quartet will bring a program of music by international and American composers, several of whom are not often heard by the public, at Pastorius Park on Wednesday, July 3, 7:30 p.m. Rajli Bicolli, cellist and founder of the quartet, was born in Albania.
“The pieces making up the first half of the program were chosen because they represent the native countries of each member of the group,” he said. “To make the program interesting and more diverse, in addition to music by Rachmaninoff, we will feature pieces by Serik Abdinurov, Kazakhstan; Joaquin Turina, Spain; and Tish Daija, Albania. For the second half of the program, we will explore music by American composers Jessie Montgomery, William Grant Still and George Gershwin.”
What does he hope the audience will come away with after hearing the program?
“To me, music is above all, entertainment, and it has to make people feel something, whether it is happiness or sadness,” Bicolli said. “You have to get the message across, no matter what piece you’re playing. As long as the audience feels something from our music, whether it’s the rhythm or a beautiful melody that reminds them of some other place and time, then I think the music will have done its job. From an artist’s point of view, the worst thing would be if somebody feels nothing.”
The quartet has been together for nine years. The members met while they were students at Temple University.
“All except me studied with the same teacher at Temple, Professor Eduard Schmieder, a well-known figure in the violin world,” Bicolli explained. “When putting together the quartet, I looked for a sort of sound, and this particular teacher had an influence on the other three. When you first get out of college, you try different groups. Some you get along with, and some you don’t. We sort of stuck together!”
Bicolli began studying cello at age 6 in his native Albania. Six years later he moved to the U.S. with his family. When he was 14, he was the concerto competition winner with the Settlement Music School Orchestra in Cleveland, OH. That same year, he was invited to join the American Music Abroad in a tour of Europe performing in six countries.
As a soloist, Bicolli has appeared with the University of Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the Starkville Symphony Orchestra. After graduating from Temple, he became a lead teaching artist for the El Sistema-based program Play On, Philly, where he taught group lessons and orchestra studies between 2012 and 2017.
Bicolli is married to Aisha Dossumova, first violinist in the ensemble, and the couple is expecting their first child in September.
Born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Dossumova won first prize in the International Violin Competition “Shabyt” in Astana (Kazakhstan) and in the International Violin Competition in San Bartolomeo (Italy). She also won prizes in the Michelangelo Abbado International Competition in Milan (Italy) and in the W.A. Mozart International competition (Austria). She holds a Doctorate degree from Temple University, where she currently teaches violin.
Alfiya Latypova, violinist, began playing violin at age 5 in her hometown of Sochi, Russia. She has performed with the Sochi Symphony Orchestra and the iPalpiti Chamber Orchestra, among others. She received a Master’s Degree in violin performance at Temple University. She also produces electronic music, is a deejay and writes original songs. Her newly released single, “Broken,” was featured in leading online electronic music magazines.
Set Rodriguez is a violist, violinist and pedagogue in the Philadelphia area. He holds a Master’s Degree in violin performance from Temple University and a Master’s Degree in strings pedagogy from the Royal Conservatory of Canary Islands in Spain. During his career, Set has won first prizes in several regional and national competitions in his native country. Currently, he is a classroom instrumental teacher for the School District of Philadelphia.
The Elegance String Quartet has performed all over the world.
“An experience that particularly stands out was when we did some concerts in Russia,” Rodriguez said. “We were part of a larger chamber orchestra that performed at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow. It was quite an experience.”
The quartet has also performed as part of larger ensembles that provide backup for performers such as Josh Groban and Idina Menzel.
More information about the quartet can be found at EleganceQuartet.com. Pastorius Park is located at the corner of Millman Street and Hartwell Lane. In the event of rain, the show will move to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s Chapel at the Inn, 500 W. Willow Grove Ave. The free Pastorius Park Summer Concert Series is supported by the Chestnut Hill Community Association and the main sponsor, Chestnut Hill Hospital.