Tomorrow night, at The Chapel in the Mission, a string quartet will reimagine the classic Beatles’ album Abbey Road, which was released 50 years ago, on the 26th of September 1969. The Abbey Bowed String Quartet will be playing arrangements of each of the songs, and violinist Charith Premawardhana says the Chicago-based group will joined on the second set of the evening with Otis McDonald, in more Beatles themed tunes.
There’s more information about the show at The Chapel’s website.
The arrangements were made by the other violinist in the ensemble, Sam Sharp, who had the idea for the project. Premawardhana also says Sharp is responsible for the punning name. “He says the idea came to him in the shower, as many great ideas are conjured up. He thought that it would be an interesting project to do this album as a string quartet. So… here we are.” There are 110 pages in the scores for the songs. “This project is about five years in the making. It is serendipitous that we happen to be coming together… right now… 50 years after the original album was released. This ensemble came together specifically for the Abbey Road album, but we are talking about further projects, we might do another tribute album, or there’s a couple of projects with local composers we’ve been talking to in Chicago.” Making the songs that are so familiar in their original version work for a quartet was the challenge. “There are some added arpeggiations from the violins, and there’s some interesting virtuosic sixteenth note passages, which do not exist on the original. Violins can emulate guitar sounds, so that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to pay tribute and… We’re doing our own version of the album, but we’re definitely taking the original as a starting point.” Abbey Bowed will be in the first half of the show. “And the second set, we will be joined by Otis McDonald, who is a local songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Otis McDonald is the alias of Joe Begale, he’s a part of the Jazz Mafia, who’s very prominent here in the Bay Area. They will have a 9-piece band, kind of in a soul-funk vibe for the second part of the show, and they’ll be doing a bunch of Beatles songs, including some songs from Abbey Road, and we’ll be joining them as well for the second set.”