Musicians Bring ‘Four Corners Of World’ In Quartet

February 8, 2018

AMMAN — A quartet composed of a Jordanian, a Palestinian, an American and a British recently released a new EP bringing “four corners of the world” into four tracks.
“Music is available to everyone from the day we are born; what is missing in our communities in Jordan and Palestine is the education needed to bring the awareness that music plays a very important role in children’s development and society’s progress,” said Jordanian violinist Layth Al Rubaye. 
“We believe that music helps in changing society but it is a very slow process,” said Rubaye, who stressed that this change is always “inevitably visible”. 
For Palestinian cello player Naseem Alatrash, “music is not only for musicians. It has played a very big role in the lives of scientists, architects, engineers and even heads of states. So I do believe that music can make a change in society but it must start in the change made to one person’s life.”
Started as a classical string quartet under the direction of Sandy Kott at university, Four Corners Quartet gradually developed into a professional group producing a demanding repertoire of classical and non-classical pieces. 
“Although we were all friends attending the same class at Berklee College of Music, we had no idea how much musical chemistry there was between us,” recalled British Alliz Espi, adding “as soon as we started rehearsing together, we knew this was going to be something special”.
The improvising ensemble blends together a mix of jazzy folk, Arabic tunes and classical melodies, which celebrates the multiethnicity of the band.
“We believe that being from different countries brings in the diversity and the cultural element to our music, but also strengthens our bonds because we’re always learning something new about each other,” said American Ellen Story, who plays the violin, adding “we are always breaking stereotypes and making sure that our music represents our vision of how the world should be”.
The band recognises that their style is something people have “never heard before”, noting how they constantly seek to compose new music through improvisations that bring together their instruments’ heritages and their cultural influences. 
The only challenge the musicians face, Espi said, is “finding the time to get together”. “If we were to have been from the same country, there would have been some kind of certainty that we would at some point be altogether in the same place. But, to be honest, this is also what makes us special.”
An artwork titled “Love & Freedom” accompanies the quartet’s EP, offering a visual mirror of the musical compositions.
“When we saw ‘Love & Freedom’ by Iraqi artist Wissam Shawakat, we felt it was a perfect mirror of our work and inspiration as a group. We also resonated with the words he painted within it by the great poet Khalil Gibran, ‘Love is the only freedom in the world’,” Alatrash recalled, noting that “although his art is a completely different medium from ours, we were inspired by his combination of tradition and modernity while celebrating a sense of freedom”.
The quartet is now planning to tour the world “not for fame” as they stressed, but “to spread our message of unity and education through social work”.
“We want to develop an educational programme working closely with all segments of society, especially the youth,” said Rubaye, adding “we really believe that musical education is one of the strongest tools to create concrete change in a community”.
“Individually, we have each produced change in our respective cities but now, we aim to bring our forces together to promote education to the rest of the world and bring as much joy to others as we feel when we compose and perform our music,” he concluded.
Jordan Times
January 30, 2018