For CASK Quartet, mixing music and marriage is a successful composition
The family that plays (music) together, stays together. You could say that three times over for members of CASK Quartet, a chamber music group that consists of two sisters and their respective husbands; like the Romanov dynasty, everyone is somehow related to everyone else.
Pictured above: Members of the CASK Quartet are Aaron Burdick and Sherah Moore-Burdick (left) and Cactus Sam Harris and Krista Harris (right). Photo: Fresno Pacific University
CASK landed a plum engagement this weekend: It is performing at Fresno Pacific University’s flagship music series, the Pacific Artist Series. I talked with organist Cactus Sam Harris via email about the ensemble and the concert.
Q: You are performing on the organ with Aaron Burdick (tenor), Sherah Moore-Burdick (soprano), and Krista Harris (flute). How did you all get together?
A: CASK is really a family affair. Krista and Sherah are sisters, and Aaron and I had the privilege of marrying into this talented duo three years ago. Separately and with our respective spouses, we have all established the seeds of our musical careers in Fresno. We were first asked perform in the 2018-19 season of Pacific Artist Series to showcase our various talents. When asked to come up with a name for the group, we decided on CASK, as it’s an acronym of our names. Hey, it works!
Q: Does it make things easier to have two married couples performing together? What if one of you forgot to take the garbage out before a rehearsal?
A: I can confidently say both couples love making music together, both casually and professionally! The hardest thing is finding rehearsal time together, as we all are working musicians with calendars chock full. Krista and I really admire and look up to Susan Doering and Dieter Wulfhorst (The Emerald Duo) as another local married couple who perform together all the time. If you’ve seen them play together, you know that they love doing it, even if the trash didn’t get taken out.
Q: How big a deal is it to be part of the Pacific Artist Series?
A: It’s an honor to have been asked. This is a well established series that showcases some great local talent and beyond.
Q: Give a brief rundown of your program.
A: The program is eclectic for sure! From Italian to English, and Baroque to Contemporary, there will be a little something for everyone. Sherah and Aaron have some beautiful art songs, arias and a duet prepared, all accompanied by Matthew Horton on the piano. Krista and I will be performing some 20th century flute and organ duets. And, what would a concert featuring the organ be without a little J.S. Bach? The four of us have a few surprises all together, including a medley of songs from Jerome Kern’s musical “Showboat.” Now I must admit, there is a bit of showman in my blood, and with this medley, the organ will be used a little differently than your standard church organ. (Think Warnors Theatre.)
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Q: You are a young organist. Are those rare creatures? I know you teach at Clovis Community College. Is it hard to recruit students?
A: Yes, there are only a handful of us under 30 in the area. Partly due to the changing church music scene, but that’s a topic for another blog post ….. Nonetheless, there is always some interest. I currently have two very eager private students. At Clovis Community College, I teach a few music appreciation classes and direct the choir — no organ. We have a growing music program and school with lots of potential.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say?
A: It really is a joy making music with my family. Each of them is extremely talented, and we get along so well. While the group is billed as the CASK Quartet, this year we will actually have a quintet on stage. Krista and I are very excited to be expecting our first baby boy in May! So far we think he has given the program great reviews, as Krista says he is fluttering around while we practice. The verdict is still out on what instrument he will play. Maybe we will start taking bets?