Apollo Chamber Players and The Inside Story: ANCESTRAL VOICES

The Apollo Chamber Players, longtime friends of PARMA Recordings, are a Houston-based chamber music ensemble that explores the cultural and folkloric influences in classical music. This theme of folk-embedded classical music can be found in their previous Navona Records releases EUROPEAN FOLKSCAPES and BLURRED BOUNDARIES. Today, the members of Apollo are our next featured artists in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner-workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to see what ANCESTRAL VOICES means to the ensemble.

What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
Anabel Ramirez, violin

When I was 17 years old, I was asked to go on tour with The Queretaro Symphony in Mexico, which is unusual for a soloist to tour with an orchestra. It was very strange to find myself at that age traveling and being constantly surrounded by much older professional musicians and having to live amongst them. At each stop I had to perform Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto and an encore; all in all, over 3 weeks we visited 17 cities (2 airplane trips and the rest by bus) sometimes only having a few minutes of warm-up time before a performance began and oftentimes in less than optimal conditions. At the time I had no idea how underpaid the whole tour was.

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, what are the three things you absolutely can’t live without?
Whitney Bullock, viola

A Zombie Apocalypse seems almost destined to happen in this day and age. Although many viola jokes can be made from this query, I do not believe that my viola would be a useful tool, besides perhaps using it for firewood to burn a zombie. I’ve read that’s the next best tactic to kill them besides 100% decapitation. So, a chainsaw, a fire starter, and a sharp machete would be an excellent trio in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Practically speaking, I am not sure I have the fortitude or weaponry skills to put myself in harm’s way with an offensive strategy. With that in mind, the three things I couldn’t live without (assuming I am in a zombie-safe bunker of some sort) are my husband, a good stash of Prosecco, and our ANCESTRAL VOICES album to drown out the sounds of zombies being killed just outside the door…

If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why?
Matthew Dudzik, cello

For me, the seclusion and serenity of the natural world and more specifically the mountains, are always rejuvenating and spark creativity. If I can unplug from the demands of daily life and let my mind be still I know I’m heading in the right direction. I would love to spend time in the Himalayas, the Sierra Nevadas, the European Alps, or the Andes of South America to name just a few!


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What does this album mean to you personally?
Matthew J. Detrick; violin, and Music Director

This album means a great deal to me and my colleagues. It is our first album consisting entirely of 20×2020 commissions, and I feel it is one of the most timely and captivating albums to be released this year. It connects with current events in a way that is revelatory and beautiful, particularly in the context of Cuba and Syria. I’m pleased that we are commissioning new music in this way, art that tells the story of the world we live in, honoring the past while looking towards the future

Is there a specific feeling you want listeners to tune into when hearing your work?
Matthew Dudzik, cello

Never before have musicians had access to such a wide variety of musical styles and creative voices. Our fast-paced, hyper-connected world has opened a multitude of inspirations to explore and delight in. I hope that someone listening to our album will feel the great celebration of this multiplicity that ANCESTRAL VOICES represents.

What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
Matthew J. Detrick; violin and Music Director

It’s tough to identify just one favorite musical moment on an album of many, but I would say that my favorite moment(s) is the creation of unique soundscapes with the guitar (in ‘Andean Suite’) and with percussion instruments (in ‘Imagenes de Cuba’). Particularly during the interplay between string quartet and guitar, I felt something magical happen – I’ve always wanted to play guitar, but violin always took precedence. In fact, my father is an accomplished folk guitar player, and during the recording and performances of Andean Suite, I felt a special kinship to Javier Farias, the composer, and guitarist. Collaborating with Cuban percussionist Adel Gonzalez – who we met for the very first time the day of the recording session – was also quite memorable. It’s not everyday one gets to jam with Cuban artists!

Apollo Chamber Players’ new album ANCESTRAL VOICES is releasing on Navona Records Friday, November 10th. Pre-order on Amazon, iTunes, ArkivMusic, and Naxos Direct. Streaming on Spotify coming soon. 

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