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Viridian Strings on new venues and northern Michigan

Viridian Strings is back in northern Michigan this week for concerts at Oliver Art Center and The Alluvion.

The group's members — violinists Zachary Brandon and Matthew Hakkarainen, violists Joseph Skerik and Katie Liu and cellists Jakob Taylor and Kyle Stachnik — hail from top U.S. conservatories, but for two of them, this trip is a homecoming.

Skerik and Stachnik are both Interlochen Arts Academy graduates whose connections to the area run deep.

"Being able to come home and play chamber music, which is our favorite kind of thing to do as musicians, is just an absolute joy. And to be able to try out these new venues that are so enthusiastic is just the cherry on top for us," Skerik says.

But Stachnik says part of the joy of returning to the area is in the chance to share it with colleagues from outside the region.

"I think Viridian strings means kind of coming home, seeing our roots, where we've been, what's changed, what hasn't. And it's so great to be able to bring our friends up to one of the most beautiful parts, I think, of our country," he says.

 Viridian Strings performs in Studio A
Viridian Strings performs in IPR's Studio A. (Photo: Amanda Sewell)

The group says performing in northern Michigan does have its challenges, though.

They've had to be strategic about convening audiences in an area whose populations are spread across a large region and performing music many people aren't familiar with.

But Skerik says audiences have responded to their music with enthusiasm.

"I remember we played some Mozart trios four or five years ago on the street, and people were just so excited. They would stand there and stop what they were doing," he says. "So tapping into that excitement and that curiosity is a challenge, but an exciting one."

Viridian Strings performed the first movement of Tchaikovsky's "Souvenir de Florence" in Studio A, and generally, the group's programs include music they say was likely meant for performances in spaces smaller than traditional concert halls.

"It's really interesting to [bring this music] straight to the people and straight to these interesting venues. It comes alive in a whole different way," Skerik says.

Audiences will have a chance to see Viridian Strings' music come alive in smaller, more intimate venues this week.

They'll perform at Oliver Art Center in Frankfort on Friday, June 9, at 7 p.m. and The Alluvion, a new performance space in Traverse City, on Saturday, June 10, at 7 p.m.

Buy tickets on the Oliver Art Center and Alluvion websites.

Kelley DiPasquale was this episode of Studio A's recording engineer.

Kacie Brown is IPR's digital content manager.

Nancy Deneen is the host of Music at Midday and Music by Request.