The Isaura String Quartet promotes traditional and contemporary chamber music through live performance, workshops, and collaborative projects with composers and interdisciplinary artists. The Los Angeles-based ensemble has worked closely with composers including Anne LeBaron, Gloria Coates, Mark Menzies, Cassia Streb, Daniel Corral, Sean Griffin, and Charles Gaines. Recent performances include the world premiere of Gloria Coates’ chamber opera Stolen Identity, the west coast premiere of Coates’ String Quartet No. 9, a recording for the 2015 Venice Biennale of new music by Charles Gaines/Sean Griffin, and scenes from Anne LeBaron’s new opera LSD: The Opera with Grammy Award-winning ensemble Partch at REDCAT and at The Schindler House in collaboration with Opera Povera. In July and August ISQ presented sa·lon, a series in collaboration with Space Art Center, featuring four programs with special guests and new works by Los Angeles composers. Members of the Isaura String Quartet are Madeline Falcone and Emily Call, violins, Melinda Rice, viola, and Betsy Rettig, cello.
Emily Call, violin
Emily Call is a violinist and performer of traditional repertoire as well as contemporary music. Based in Los Angeles, she has played at venues as diverse as the Gibson Amphitheatre, the House of Blues San Diego, the Silverlake Lounge, SPACE Arts Center, Monk Space, Human Resources, REDCAT, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Emily has been a soloist with the CalArts New Millennium Chamber Orchestra and the Sage City Symphony, as well as a featured performer with the CalArts Baroque Ensemble. Outside of ISQ, Emily has performed with various groups across Los Angeles, including YMF’s Debut Orchestra and Classical Revolution LA. Not limited to the orchestral world, Emily has had the privilege of recording and performing with a diverse group of bands and songwriters, including Baths, Hooded Eyes, and Trevor Wilson.
A highlight of Emily’s career was performing James Tenney’s Koan for solo violin for legend Malcolm Goldstein, the dedicatee of the piece. A highlight of her non-musical career was driving across the country, from Connecticut to California, and making stops at Graceland and Cadillac Ranch along the way.
Emily is also an enthusiastic teacher. She is a program director for Elemental Strings, where she runs the Prelude Program and coaches for the upper orchestras. Emily also maintains a private studio and teaching for Musical Beginnings in Westchester.
MFA CalArts, 2013. BA Bennington College, 2011. Violin studies with: Martha Caplin, Lorenz Gamma, Mark Menzies.
Madeline Falcone, violin & viola
Madeline Falcone is an ambitious performer who is interested in the interpretation of music ranging from traditional classics to experimental contemporary works. A versatile collaborative artist, Madeline is active in Los Angeles and New Orleans and performs regularly with the Isaura String Quartet, violin/viola duo Story Water, and with cellist Aniela Marie Perry. She has appeared in solo roles including VLN & VLA at REDCAT and Alex Vassos’ opera The House is Open, and has also performed with Vinny Golia’s Large Ensemble, the Thelonius Monk Sextet, Dorian Wood’s Rattle Rattle Chamber Orchestra, OperaBreve, YMF’s Debut Orchestra, Classical Revolution L.A., Mike Keneally, and Jóhann Jóhannsson.
As a proponent of experimental and contemporary music, Madeline has worked closely with composers, writers, and multimedia artists including Anne LeBaron, Mark Menzies, Daniel Corral, Ajay Kapur, Jules Gimbrone, Raúl Gómez, Vinny Golia, Mark Yakich, and Gloria Coates.
In addition to performing, Madeline is a dedicated teacher. She has participated as a regular teacher, guest artist, and assistant to the director at the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestras Summer Festival, New Orleans String Project Summer Camp, and Virginia Commonwealth University Strings Camp, and currently teaches at the Rhodes School of Music in Los Angeles.
The dedication and focus that Madeline has applied to her musical career is symbiotic with her life as a competitive long distance runner. She holds the unofficial Loyola school record in the marathon and half marathon and is currently looking forward to running her first ultramarathon.
MFA CalArts, 2013. IU Jacobs School of Music Summer Orchestras, 2011–2013. BM Loyola University New Orleans, 2011. Violin studies with: Joe Nigro, Mark Menzies, Lorenz Gamma, Amy Thiaville, and Michel Zaïtzeff.
Betsy Rettig, cello
Betsy Rettig is a versatile cellist dedicated to innovation and experimentation in musical composition and practice. Recent adventures in music making include participation in the 2011 U.S Debut of The Universe Will Provide with composer and guitar legend Mike Keneally, working directly with the composer for the Sophia Gubaidulina Festival (REDCAT), the Los Angeles Iannis Xenakis Festival (REDCAT), and performing solo amplified cello in the west-coast premiere of Xenakis’ opera Oresteia (CalArts). BM: Cleveland State University. Advanced Certificate in Chamber Music: Leonard Sorkin International Institute for Chamber Music at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is currently an MFA candidate in Cello Performance at CalArts, studying with Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick and Matt Cooker.
Melinda Rice, viola & violin
Melinda Rice is a violist and violinist who loves stories. She performs with the house band at the Craft in America study center, and has premiered and performed music with wild Up!, Vinny Golia's Large Ensemble, Leah Paul's small ensemble, Homesick Elephant and RiotStage. She is excited to join the Isaura String Quartet in 2015, after playing with the quartet on the premiere of Gloria Coates’ opera, Stolen Identity, and playing with the quartet in a performance of Julia Wolfe’s Dig Deep at The Last Bookstore in December 2014. Melinda has premiered much of Kraig Grady's music for violin/string quartet, and played in premieres at REDCAT, the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, and Art Share in Los Angeles, and has been presented by SASSAS and Microfest. Her album of folk music arrangements for string quartet, Before the Color Blue, was released online in 2014, and she is on the teaching artist faculty at the Harmony Project. Melinda is a graduate of the Philadelphia Creative and Performing Arts High School, Sarah Lawrence College, and the California Institute of the Arts.
Inspired by Calvino's Invisible Cities , the Isaura String Quartet takes its name from the "thin city" of Isaura, described as such:
Isaura, city of the thousand wells, is said to rise over a deep, subterranean lake. On all sides, wherever the inhabitants dig long vertical holes in the ground, they succeed in drawing up water, as far as the city extends, and no farther. Its green border repeats the dark outline of the buried lake; an invisible landscape conditions the visible one; everything that moves in the sunlight is driven by the lapping wave enclosed beneath the rock's calcareous sky. Consequently two forms of religion exist in Isaura. The city's gods, according to some people, live in the depths, in the black lake that feeds the underground streams. According to others, the gods live in the buckets that rise, suspended from a cable, as they appear over the edge of the wells, in the revolving pulleys, in the windlasses of the norias, in the pump handles, in the blades of the windmills that draw the water up from the drillings, in the trestles that support the twisting probes, in the reservoirs perched on stilts over the roofs, in the slender arches of the aqueducts, in all the columns of water, the vertical pipes, the plungers, the drains, all the way up to the weathercocks that surmount the airy scaffolding of Isaura, a city that moves entirely upwards.