By: Erin Callahan – Chief A&E Writer
What do you get when you cross Beethoven’s classical works, Disney musical masterpieces and the Black Eyed Peas’ funky pop sound? That would be a performance by boy band and string quartet Well-Strung, who will perform at the Springfield Arts Council Nov. 22.
Well-Strung stars first violinist Edmund Bagnell, second violinist Christopher Marchant, cellist Daniel Shevlin and violinist Trevor Wadleigh. Their idea began as a string quartet with a twist, to juxtapose classical with Top 40 favorites from artists like Kesha, Pink and Rihanna.
“There is a great appeal from people who value a classical string quartet but also pop music and want to see it in a unique way,” Marchant said. “We’re not one or the other, but a mix of both. We’ve gotten more into pop rock and show tunes from Disney, we’re just branching out to different genres and seeing what we can do.”
The idea grew in 2010 while Marchant was performing in Cape Cod and earning some extra cash playing in the streets, when he began collaborating with local theater producer, Mark Cortale. They soon found Shevlin on Facebook and held auditions in January 2012 where Bagnell and Wadleigh made the cut. The new quartet attended a workshop at Arts Nova NYC in February and, May 1 that same year, held its debut, sold-out show.
Since then, they have traveled and performed nationally and internationally in New York, New Orleans, San Francisco and London. Well-Strung also released a self-titled album in late 2013.
The musicians of Well-Strung have extensive musical and performance experience that they bring to their new classical-pop platform.
Bagnell performed as Tobias in the first national tour of “Sweeney Todd,” Charlie Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and Tom Sawyer in “Big River” in theaters across the country. Marchant, an Ohio native, attended Malone College in Canton, Ohio, for music ministry. He later moved to New York City to pursue musical theater.
Shevlin has traveled to all but two U.S. states for music, and has performed off-Broadway in “The Sandbox” and in international productions of “Rent” and “Cabaret.” Wadleigh attended the University of Pugent Sound and studied with a viola professor from the Manhattan School of Music. He has served as principal violist of three orchestras and as a viola instructor at his alma mater.
This diverse blend of talent has earned the musicians national attention. They’ve appeared on “The Today Show,” “CBS News” and “ABC News,” with mentions in The New York Times, Huffington Post and the Times Square Chronicles.
“The dedication, determination, desire and discipline of these men will result in opportunities unimaginable,” John Weatherford said in a Times Square Chronicles review. “Not only are they consummate instrumentalists; they are also terrific singers. Their harmonies are intricate, as intricate as the classical music they play, and their solo presentations are electrifying.”
Marchant said singing keeps them invested through hard work, keeping the different melodies of singing and orchestra at the same time; something no other string quartet has attempted to do.
“For our older shows, we would play classical then pop, but what people are really responding to is when we mix and do both in one piece,” Marchant said. “Sometimes it seems like people are afraid of classical because there’s so much out there, but we offer a friendly approach to get into it.”
Bagnell, Marchant, Shevlin and Wadleigh currently live in New York City but travel out of town once or twice a week for shows. Their trip to the Springfield Arts Council will be their first stop in Ohio, where Ohio native Marchant’s family will see Well-Strung perform its new music for the first time.
Beyond the family reunion, Marchant hints to what’s next for Well-Strung – recording its second album, “Popssical.”
Well-Strung will perform at the Springfield Arts Council Tuesday, Nov. 22. Tickets are available at springfieldartscouncil.org. For more information on Well-Strung or to see upcoming shows, visit www.well-strung.com.