Music of the Holocaust. Music from “Twin Peaks.” “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Collaborations with double bassists, pianists, mandolin players and clarinetists.
The Dover Quartet is following its own path.
That path has led the foursome, which formed at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute, to multiple competition wins. To the release of a second recording, “Voices of Defiance 1943 1944 1945,” which captures music from some of the oppressed European composers of World War II. To important appearances at high profile venues like Carnegie Hall and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, as well as not-so-classical venues like New York’s Le Poisson Rouge.
It’s been a heady trip for the quartet, and their return to Westport’s Concerts on the Point this Sunday will give audiences a chance to hear the group probing some challenging repertory.
The concert features “Four Miniatures,” by American composer Richard Danielpour, as well as the first quartets of Tchaikovsky and Bartok.
Dover formed in 2008, and their name pays tribute to another Curtis alumni, composer Samuel Barber — his “Dover Beach.”
Quartet competition wins at Banff and elsewhere quickly cemented the group’s reputation, and almost a decade later they find themselves playing in some of the greatest venues around the world.
Westport audiences will remember a fascinating program in the spring of 2016, a concert that ranged from Mozart to Dutilleux to Shostakovich.
Cellist Camden Shaw says the group’s repertory explores “about 80 percent classical composers, and 20 percent commissions.” Included in those commissions is Danielpour’s “Four Miniatures,” which the group premiered in May at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas.
“This piece was accessible and exciting right from the first hearing,” Shaw says, “which is not always the case with commissions. We have really gotten some positive feedback.
“Richard is of Iranian descent, and he’s been looking at interesting combinations of Iranian folk styles. I’m not sure he’s really quoting folk tunes, or taking distinct folk melodies. If I were to wager, I would say he’s taking more rhythmic quotations.
“Some of the rhythm is tenuto (held for an extra bit) on the downbeat, and light on the first beat,” Shaw says, singing an example over the phone. “It has the feeling of a long march in the sand, that hypnotic mixture you get, that sense of traveling a long way. But it’s definitely a dance, sort of like a tango in the sand.”
Apart from commissions by composers like Danielpour, the “Twin Peaks” project — last year they premiered Daniel Schlosberg’s “Twin Peaks Fantasy” to accompany the return of the popular David Lynch television series — and their version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a YouTube sensation, Dover is one of a growing number of groups that has been caught up in the fractious politics of the day.
Deeply moved by the confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, they organized a benefit performance in that city in September, just weeks after the violence.
“We had just made this recording, which included music that was written in the concentration camps during World War II,” Shaw said. “It was an emotional project, and while we were doing it we read the memoir of Simon Laks, one of the composers.
“Then when we saw this white supremacy, and racism, it was too disturbing. Having just worked on this music, we felt that we had to go there and share the experience,” Shaw continues.
“What was hard was doing it so that it wasn’t so sad,” he says of the concert, which was a benefit for the Heal Charlottesville Fund. “It was pretty last-minute, but more than a hundred people came. It’s getting us excited about what music can do for people — beyond just making them love the music. We’re just in the beginning stages of things like this.”
The Dover Quartet performs music of Danielpour, Tchaikovsky and Bartok on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 3:00 p.m. in the United Methodist Church on Westport Point. For tickets and information call 508-636-0698 or visit www.concertsatthepoint.org.