John Sant'Ambrogio said the string quartet is a metaphor for life. Each instrument, like each person in the world, has a unique role to play.
"It's like a conversation between four voices where everyone gets a chance to speak," Sant'Ambrogio said. "In the string quartet, there is a discussion occurring among four different instruments, each coming in with their own special ideas."
¤ "Amadeus Comes to Harwigs!" a three-course dinner and performance by the Steamboat String Quartet
¤ 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 11, June 25 and July 9
¤ Harwigs/L'apogee, 911 Lincoln Ave.
¤ $53 a person (tax, tip and alcoholic beverages not included)
¤ 879-1919 for reservations
The Steamboat String Quartet, featuring Sant'Ambrogio on cello, Mary Anne Fairlie on viola and Teresa Steffen-Greenlee and Bonnie Murray on violin, will share its voices during four "Amadeus Comes to Harwigs!" performances beginning Sunday.
The intimate performances, to be accompanied by a three-course dinner at Harwigs/L'apogee, will focus on the music of Mozart. The performances coincide with the 250th anniversary of his birth.
"Mozart may come into the room and take over my consciousness as he comments about what's going on and talks about his fellow composers," Sant'Ambrogio said.
Some of the music the Quartet will perform was written more than two centuries ago; one movement was composed at the same time Sant'Ambrogio's cello was made -- 1726.
"We will play a movement from one of the first quartets ever written," Sant'Ambrogio said. "It is from 1690, during the end of the Baroque Period and is very contrapuntal in style, which means that the different voices that are imitating each other are woven together in such a manner that we find that we are hearing a fugue."
"Amadeus Comes to Harwigs!" will feature music by Scarlatti, Haydn, Dvorak and Mozart. The Steamboat String Quartet will play movements from different quartets so the audience can compare the different pieces, Sant'Ambrogio said.
"We'll show how Haydn influenced Mozart and then how he flowered out on his own."
Sant'Ambrogio recently retired from a 46-year professional music career. He was the principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony since 1968 and played in the Boston Symphony for nine years before that.
When he left St. Louis, Sant'Ambrogio didn't know he would find three musicians with the beautiful instrumental tones necessary for a quartet, he said.
"It was like an answer to a prayer that I don't remember praying for."
Sant'Ambrogio described classical music as something that is at the core of our being.
"Most of the movies have music based on the principles and what we know as classical music -- all the things you will hear at the concert," he said.
The four performances also will include an educational component. Attendees will hear the stories behind the music, and Sant'Ambrogio will explain the techniques used to create the different musical effects.
"I believe in the effect great music can have on people," Sant'Ambrogio said. "It can really make us come alive again."