Steamboat Springs Being a member of the Hyperion String Quartet is like being married to three people.
So says violinist Amanda Brown, one part of the musical foursome that has played together since their freshman year at the Eastman School of Music.
After living together in a cramped New York City hotel room, traveling through rural Kentucky and competing in Ontario, the quartet can finish each others' sentences, place food orders already knowing what the others want and most importantly communicate through head nods and glances.
That last quality is a result of countless hours of practicing together and is essential for performing.
"When you play in this kind of group, it is a different kind of communication. It is with gestures," cello player Jonathan Brin said. "You start to think as a group. You know what that person is going to do. We've worked together so long, it's easier to work as a group."
Violinist Amy Lovinger and viola player Jamie Arrowsmith join Brin and Brown in the string quartet that has been playing together for 3 1/2 years.
The quartet is spending its summer in Steamboat with the Strings in the Mountains Young Artists in Residence program. As part of the Music on the Green series at the Yampa River Botanic Park, the quartet can be heard every Thursday at noon until Aug. 15.
What might seem like a paid vacation to the quartet is actually just a short stop before the group heads into its first year of graduate school at Kent State. The group will be in the graduate program for advanced string quartet studies and study under the acclaimed Miro Quartet.
The Hyperion Quartet members came together at the end of their first semester in college.
After taking a chamber music seminar and working in four other quartets, they decided they wanted to form their own group and have been playing together ever since.
At Eastman, the group worked extensively with the Ying and Penderecki quartets as well as noted violin soloists Zvi Zeitlin and Ilya Kaler. At the end of college, they all decided to pursue a career as a string quartet, a risky decision, Arrowsmith said.
"We all really wanted to be in a string quartet. We were all really gung-ho about the career," Arrowsmith said. "But it's the worst career decision anyone can make. It is so hard to get into the business."
In college, the group would practice every day in between classes and lessons, but once in the master's program, they will be seeing a lot more of each other as they rehearse together six to 10 hours a day.
While the foursome is in Steamboat, the group will be stage managers during Strings concerts, perform for Music on the Green and give 10 concerts for senior groups. The quartet also gets a chance to have private lessons with the visiting musicians that come and go through the Strings concert series.
With Arrowsmith from Ontario, Canada, and the rest from different parts of New York, no one in the foursome had ever been to Colorado until this summer. But traveling has become one of the perks of playing in a string quartet.
Since their conception, the foursome has competed in its first international competition in Los Angeles, did a school outreach program in Kentucky and auditioned in Oklahoma for graduate school. During their stay in New York, the members participated in the Juilliard Quartet Seminar, a workshop that culminated in a performance at Lincoln Center Plaza.
The quartet plays everything from jazz to Dave Matthews and has the Mozart and Beethoven staples, but with so many different styles, deciding on a favorite is impossible.
"There is so much great music written for quartets," Arrowsmith said. "There are so many different styles and you like so many that it's impossible to choose."