The Dali Quartet
Story by Rachel Watkins
The Dalí Quartet makes (sound) waves with its Classical-Latin fusion
Comprised of Ari Isaacman-Beck, first violin; Carlos Rubio, second violin; Adriana Linares, viola; and Jesús Morales, cello; the quartet is consistently inspired to represent both the traditional Latin music of their roots and the Western classical musical of their training.
We wanted to get the inside track on how it all started — and what’s next for this formidable four.
So, Carlos, tell us… how did the Dalí Quartet begin?
Well, it all started in 2004 when my friend, Adriana Linares, and I dreamt of starting an all-Latino string quartet. After finding a first violinist and cellist to join us, we set roots in the Philadelphia area and quickly started building our dream career! While combining classical with Latin was unconventional at the time, we didn’t see any reason why these two genres couldn't share the concert stage.
And, the quartet members, how did you all find each other?
Adriana and I go back a long way! We met in Venezuela and reconnected while we were both living in the Midwest in the late 1990s. Since 2004, we have had a few member changes, but Adriana and I remain the founding members. Our cellist, Jesús Morales, is from Puerto Rico and we were lucky that he moved to Philadelphia when his wife joined the Philadelphia Orchestra. Finally, we are incredibly excited to welcome our new first violinist, Ari Isaacman-Beck, and we’re looking forward to getting back on the road whenever we can do so safely!
You grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, correct? How did you end up in the U.S.?
I left my country in 1997 to study chamber music with the Penderecki Quartet in Ontario, Canada with my then string quartet (all Venezuelan), the Cuarteto America. Later that year, the quartet came to the U.S. as graduate students to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. While I did not come from a musical family, I had parents who supported my love of music and eventual immigration to North America.
" I taught in some of the most rural areas in Venezuela — some of which were only accessible by prop plane! "
You were once a part of one of the most famous youth orchestras in the world. Tell us more!
I was a student and, later, a teacher in the El Sistema program. El Sistema began in Venezuela and used music as a social program to help children out of poverty. It has since expanded all over the world!
It was because of this program that I was able to start violin at a community center while my mother and father worked. Years later, when I was a member of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in Caracas, I taught in some of the most rural areas in Venezuela — some of which were only accessible by prop plane!
And, Adriana, do you have any advice for young artists?
Here is my top ten list of things I would advise the next generation of musicians :
- Always use sense of compromise.
- Agree to disagree on musical ideas.
- Do what works for the group, not what’s right individually.
- Prepare your individual parts and know your score well.
- Be kind with words and use a nice tone.
- Bring a smile to rehearsal whenever you can.
- Leave your own problems outside of the rehearsal room.
- Enjoy outside time as a group — dining together, sharing family events.
- Try not to take things personally inside of the rehearsal; it’s about the music.
- Question or criticize the action not the person.
And, how about any practice routines you typically use?
Some of our practice routines include: performing scales together; running through passages slowly; picking various spots in the music and drilling those; all the Bach chorales; and telling jokes right before we go on stage!
Carlos, how has the pandemic impacted your life?
Professionally, the pandemic has been tough! The quartet lost its entire touring schedule for the year almost overnight. However, personally, it has been a year of close family time, which has been pretty amazing. All four of us are parents, so virtual schooling and managing households during lockdown has been an adventure.
" Professionally, the pandemic has been tough! The quartet lost its entire touring schedule for the year almost overnight. "
What’s next for you and the quartet?
We’re looking forward to an album release this spring  of piano quintets with Van Cliburn Gold medalists Olga Kern on the Delos label. Our next recording project will be clarinet quintets with the Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal clarinetist and our cellist’s brother, Ricardo Morales.
Jesús, how did you hear about Coregami? How has it helped you on stage?
I learned about Coregami through a friend and conductor in Philadelphia. I immediately noticed the unique and elegant design and wanted to buy one as soon as possible. I purchased the Miles Mandarin and fell in love with the look and its absolute comfort. (I now own two Miles Mandarin, the Menuhin Mandarin, and the Coltrane!) I urged my quartet colleagues to get them, too, for our concerts instead of always wearing suits.
We’re all very happy with them — comfort, a great look, and we get many compliments because of them.
Although we aren’t traveling right now, the shirts are also so great for that; they don’t wrinkle and they dry very quickly after washing while keeping the same amazing look.