In all the years I’ve been doing music journalism, I have never chatted with a member of the DaPonte String Quartet — made up of Ferdinand “Dino” Liva (violin), Lydia Forbes (violin), Myles Jordon (cello) and Kirsten Monke (viola). Having been raised in a family that had strong classical music ties, I feel remiss in not having interviewed this exceptional group, so when I discovered that they were coming to Jewett Auditorium on Sunday, April 17, I figured that I should right that wrong as soon as possible. To that end, I arranged an interview with Dino Liva, and he ended up calling me from the road.

Q: To begin with, how far afield does the quartet go?

Liva: Well, we’ve been to a whole bunch of the states, we’ve been to Canada, we’ve been to spots in France and Scotland, and a couple of places (elsewhere) in Europe. It’s been a while since we’ve gone overseas, but we have done it.

Q: Are you one of the original members?

Liva: Yes. The other original member is Myles, the cellist.

Q: I believe there is a member from Maine. Is that correct?

Liva: Yes, … Kirsten Monke was born and raised in Brunswick. She’s the violist now, but she was in California, in Santa Barbara, when we put an ad in for needing a violist; she responded to that ad and she brought herself back to Maine.

Q: Neat! Is the DaPonte String Quartet considered a Maine-based organization?

Liva: Sure, yeah. We formed in Philadelphia, but we’ve been here for a long time.

Q: How long has the quartet been together?

Liva: Since ’91.

Q: Are you doing what you wanted to do when you started out?

Liva: For the most part, yes.

Q: What haven’t you done yet that you would like to?

Liva: More European concert stuff, I would say — more traveling. But I’ve got to be careful what I wish for, because Lydia and Myles both have kids they have to take care of, worry about when we’re away, so it’s not a easy as it used to be.

Q: Your repertoire is fairly expansive, correct?

Liva: Yes, I would think so, yeah.

Q: Are there any time periods of music that you really enjoy a lot, or do you like it all?

Liva: Well, I’ll speak for myself. I love everything from Bach to, not so much a lot of the things that are being written today — I’m not a great lover of strident music that’s meant to shock or scar the ear a little bit. I’m not terribly fond of that sort of thing. There’s some of it that’s great, but give me the meat and potatoes and I’m happy.

Q: What will your program be at Jewett Auditorium? Oh, I should ask first if you’ve ever played there before.

Liva: Oh, yeah, sure — we’ve probably played there, I want to say 10 or 12 times, at least, over the years. And right off the top of my head I can’t remember what our program will be when we’re at Jewett, but I think it will be Shostakovich, Schulhoff and (Beethoven). It’s on our website, though.

Q: What do you listen to for enjoyment?

Liva: For my own listening, like when I’m driving, I usually listen to rock ‘n’ roll: the ’70s/late ’60s stuff, also early ’80s — once we get to like, Madonna, I start giving up on it.

Q: And rightfully so.

Liva: Yeah! And actually there’s some stuff out now that I kind of like. I don’t actively listen to it, but it if happens to be on, I just let it go. I have a terrible time listening to classical music. I mean all I do is start analyzing it and seeing what’s wrong with it and how to fix it. I can almost not enjoy it.

Q: Oh, no.

Liva: Isn’t that terrible? That’s how I get.

Q: I’ll be darned. That’s amazing.

Liva: Yeah.

Q: Well, seeing you’ve performed at Jewett before, is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Liva: No, not really. You know what the program is, we’ve talked about when it is, who it is, a little bit of our history; that’s it, I think.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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