, Gloucester, MA

October 4, 2012

Taking tango to new places

Quartango brings musical alchemy to Rockport

By Gail McCarthy Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — An award-winning international chamber music group will bring its special brand of music to the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport on Sunday, performing an evening of classical and pioneering tango for the listening audience.

The group, Quartango, based in Quebec and founded in 1983, has traveled the globe performing its repertoire, with music ranging from classic tangos to tango nuevo (new tango). It also explores the genres of opera, waltzes and jigs and more.

“We’re doing tango in a very special way — the Montreal way, not the Argentina way,” said Rene Gosselin, a founding member. “But there is always a lot of passion with tango. We don’t consider ourselves as individuals but as a group. The writing is for a team, very complex rhythmically, and that makes the sound of Quartango. We have a peculiar signature. In addition to classic tango, we also take music like rock music or Celtic music and make tango.”

Quartango even takes Frank Zappa’s tune “Little Umbrellas” and with some musical alchemy transforms it into a tango mood, which it will do on Sunday here. The group does the same with Dave Brubeck’s “Blue rondo a la Turk,” which includes some improvisation. Its performance of “Oblivion” is infused with salsa.

The newest members of the group are all composers and their work too will be performed.

“We have some classical tango such as the Stravinsky tango that he wrote for piano, and we have some extravaganzas like Zappa and Brubeck,” said Gosselin, who teaches at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. He holds a master’s degree in performance from Université de Montréal and also won first prize in chamber music from the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal.

Quartango has performed throughout Canada and on the international scene, from Ankara, Turkey, to Tokyo, as well as in Taipei, Paris and New York, where the group shared the stage at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops. More recently, it performed in Guatemala and with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Quartango’s awards include three Opus Awards, a Félix Award and a Juno nomination.

Gosselin, who is principal double bass with Montreal’s Metropolitan Orchestra, plays a one-of-a-kind instrument, which was created in 1997, with a new design featuring an expanded register.

The “Quartango sound,” characterized by elegant musical arrangements, is due primarily to the arrangements by Richard Hunt (1930-2011), according to a press release. Hunt, born in England, studied piano and viola at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he won the Macpherson Prize for musicianship just prior to immigrating to Canada in 1956. Hunt composed more than 20 original works for Quartango. In addition to Gosselin, the group is comprised of Jonathan Goldman on bandoneon, Stéphane Aubin on piano, and Antoine Bareil on violin.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445, or

If you go Who and what: Quartango, a chamber music group, takes tango in new directions. When: Sunday, Oct. 7, at 5 p.m. Where: Shalin Liu Performance Center, Main Street in Rockport. How much: $25 to $39. Tickets available online at, or call 978-546-7391 or at the box office at 35 Main St. in downtown Rockport.