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String Music: Dallas String Quartet Woos Hoopster LeBron James

Alum Ion Zanca and his quartet's non-traditional approach to string music opens doors to unlikely opportunities

By Chris Calloway (B.M. Performance ’12)
When Ion Zanca (B.M. ’06 and M.M. ’08, viola performance) founded the Dallas String Quartet as a masters student at SMU, he never guessed that the group’s career would get a boost this spring from basketball star LeBron James.

As a free agent, James was being wooed by cities and teams nationwide. Ben Rogers, the host of ESPN Radio Dallas’ local Ben & Skin Show, wrote and recorded “The BronBron Song,” a pitch to convince James to join the Dallas Mavericks. A short time later, Rogers happened to be walking through NorthPark Mall during a performance there by the quartet, and heard them playing a Michael Jackson hit. Impressed, he commissioned them to do a re-mix of his song. The song netted over 12,000 views on YouTube and landed the quartet interviews on Rogers’ ESPN show, Fox 4’s “Good Day” program and the Wall Street Journal. The Dallas Mavericks have since commissioned the group to perform a new song with Rogers, in support of their campaign “DFW Digs Dirk.”

Meanwhile, the quartet, which includes Gaston Colloco (A.C. ’07 and M.M. ’09, cello performance), Jorge Caldelari (A.C. ’08, violin performance) and Tatiana Glava (M.M. ’12, violin performance) has just released their first CD. Titled “Eclectric,” it showcases the group’s new sound using electric instruments. (It’s available on iTunes.)

“People tend to think of string quartets as a bit stuffy and traditional,” said Zanca. “We take a non-traditional approach to the music we perform. Now, by including electric instruments, we’ve added a new level of expression to the music we play. It’s that mix of traditional and electric instruments, genres and styles that led to the name ‘Eclectric.’ ”

The music the group performs can be traditional or contemporary, amplified or intimate, in genres ranging from jazz to tango, classical to classic rock. They’ve played at clubs throughout North Texas, at major social events such as The Arts Ball and the Crystal Charity Ball, and for numerous private functions. Before creating their ensemble, members of the quartet appeared individually with a number of well known orchestras and performers worldwide, including Amy Grant, Josh Groban and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The group is currently participating in a documentary titled “Eco-Harmony,” produced by Twist & Shout Communications of London for Alcatel-Lucent, Paris, to correlate the way individual musicians must perform together to the way individual businesses must work together to make a difference in the environment.

For more information, check out their website at DallasStringQuartet.com or visit their Facebook page.

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