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Calder Quartet's Eric Byers

By Monk Turner
Published: Wednesday, May 12, 2010, at 09:41AM
Eric Byers Monk Turner

Please don't call it the giant violin...

Those that call classical music boring or archaic clearly do not follow ensembles like the Calder Quartet. Sure they like to play their fair share of the golden oldies, but they are among a handful of groups redefining what an classical ensemble can be. An added bonus is that one of their members spends a lot of time wood shedding(musican's speak for practicing) in his Downtown L.A. loft.

Those that call classical music boring or archaic clearly do not follow ensembles like the Calder Quartet. Sure they like to play their fair share of the golden oldies, but they are among a handful of groups redefining what an classical ensemble can be. An added bonus is that one of their members spends a lot of time wood shedding(musican's speak for practicing) in his Downtown L.A. loft.

We sat down with Calder Quartet member Eric Byers (which was easy because as a cello player he was already sitting down anyway) to see how he got here and what he's been up to.

MONK TURNER: What originally brought you to L.A.?

ERIC BYERS: I came to L.A. to go to school at USC and while there I met three other guys and started playing in a string quartet with them. By the time we graduated we decided we wanted to try making a living doing this so we spent two years at the Colburn School. Then we went to Juliard for two years and got a job as a quartet in residence at Colburn. Part of the reason I moved to downtown was because it was close. I could walk or ride my bike to school but also in this area there are so many great places to eat and so many great things to do.

MT: And you are still very busy with the Calder Quartet...

EB: Yeah that's like our career. So far everybody is getting along. [laughter] We do two concerts a year here in downtown...

MT: At Colburn.

EB: Yes.

MT: What is your focus?

EB: We try to play a wide variety of music. We focused on traditional music in school. We still really love playing Mozart, Beethoven, and Hayden and stuff like that. We also like to play new music. We did a tour with Andrew W.K. of all people. Another collaboration was with Iva Bittová who is a Czech singer and violinist. A few weeks ago we played at a festival called Big Ears which is in Knoxville.

MT: You've collaborated with other pop groups aside from Andrew W.K., correct?

EB: Yeah we play with Airborne Toxic Event and also Vampire Weekend.

MT: With all of that, you must spend a lot of time here practicing.

EB: [laughter] Lots of practicing and studying scores.

MT: When you need a break, do you find yourself wandering around downtown?

EB: Yeah. I go anywhere in Little Tokyo. We go to Yogurtland or Robecks for a refreshing afternoon snack. I like Haru Lala and the sausage place. It is nice having the Little Tokyo Market since it got redone.

And it is nice having you in our neighborhood, Eric. We already missed his spring Colburn appearance, but he'll be back to play there in the winter. The best way to find out where the Calder Quartet is playing is to visit their website at calderquartet.com.

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Music Profiles

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