To call the Turtle Island String Quartet a classical music act is akin to calling Jackson Pollack a painter. Sure the label fits, but like Pollack, Turtle Island are revolutionaries of their craft, taking classical elements and splattering them all over the wall along with elements of folk, funk, rock, hip-hop, be-bop, bluegrass, swing, Latin American and rhythm and blues.
Since 1985, Turtle Island String Quartet (a name taken from Native American mythology) has been on a musical journey which began when violinist David Balakrishnan was writing his master’s thesis on musical exploration and compositional vision at Antioch University West.
That journey continues Feb. 25, at the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton with brunch starting at 1 p.m., followed by the show at 3 p.m. Tickets, which are available from the box office or calling (360) 373-6743, for the brunch are $49. Without the meal, floor- and loge-level seats are $18, balcony seats are $15.
Turtle Island String Quartet has made more than a dozen recordings, both on its own and collaboratively with classical and jazz artists such as clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera (on “Danzón”), Billy Taylor Trio (“Homage”), the Detroit Symphony (“A Night in Tunisia, A Week in Detroit”), The Manhattan Transfer, the Parsons Dance Company and with the Ying Quartet on “4+ Four” which earned the group the 2006 Grammy award for best classical crossover album.
Keeping with Balakrishnan’s vision, Turtle Island improvises and adapts arrangements to suit its needs — a technical take more seen in jazz than in string quartets. Each of the group’s members — Balakrishnan (violin, baritone violin), Evan Price (violin), founding member Mark Summer (cello) and Mads Tolling (viola) — are all classically trained in addition to having deep jazz roots which led famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma to declare Turtle Island to be a “a unified voice that truly breaks new ground — authentic and passionate — a reflection of some of the most creative music-making today.”