Founded in 2009, the Freya String Quartet (Jason Neukom, Ashley Buckley, Jason Hohn, Katya Janpoladyan) is dedicated to performing a wide range of music, advocating artistic evolution, and teaching the importance of classical music in the Pittsburgh area. It has been the personal goal of the ensemble to go beyond the traditions of the classical music world by breaking boundaries and reaching new audiences through innovative performances and unique methods. Freya helped create Symbiotic Collusion in 2011 in an effort to maximize the possibilities of these goals.
The members have been featured in performances throughout the US, Asia, South America and Europe and have studied with members of the Cleveland Quartet, Ying Quartet, Alexander String Quartet, Cavani String Quartet, Daedalus Quartet, Fry Street Quartet, Los Angeles Piano Quartet, and others. Freya gives many performances in a variety of venues, using a vast array of repertoire that spans from Shostakovich to Glass and Beethoven to Radiohead. The quartet is always looking for interesting works, collaborations and projects.
Freya String Quartet is very passionate about music education, both in regard to reaching out to the general public and in stressing the importance of music in the public school system. Freya has spent the last four years donating time to public schools in the Pittsburgh area by giving short concerts, teaching lesson plans, helping students learn valuable chamber music skills, and assisting music teachers in recruiting students for their programs. The quartet feels it is also important to support new music, and has performed the works of several living Pittsburgh classical composers and also frequently works with local popular artists and can be heard on several of their albums.
Freya’s 2013-2014 season projects included performing for Opera Theater of Pittsburgh SummerFest’s Mozart Camp, being string quartet in residence for two weeks at the Charlotte New Music Festival, a collaborative concert with the Arabesque Winds and Alia Musica to feature new works by Pittsburgh composers, recording string parts for Pittsburgh artist Joy Ike’s new album, All or Nothing, performing with the Symbiotic Chamber Orchestra for First Night Pittsburgh at their downtown performing space, The Sound Gallery, among other projects. 2013 also saw the release of studio album ‘The Ghost & Mr. Able’, a song set composed by Sean Neukom meant to blur the lines between what is classical and what is rock/pop, while also highlighting the use of string quartet and employing advanced compositional language within the basic song format. This song set was featured as the main act in their 2013-2014 Pittsburgh season’s ‘Electric’ show, a program in which Freya performed entirely on amplified acoustic instruments at the Wood Street Galleries in downtown Pittsburgh.
There are several upcoming projects that Freya is involved with. The first is the release of an album entitled ‘Snapshots’, which features nine fantastic character works, all written for Freya by composers Richard Neukom and Sean Neukom. One of these short works was recently performed live on Pittsburgh’s WQED classical radio. There is also an ongoing collaboration with Stockholm composer Matthew Peterson, who is in the process of writing a string quartet entitled ‘Badlands’ for Freya, two movements of which are on the 2013-2014 season, with more to come in the following season. Another upcoming studio album includes a set of new songs for string quartet and drums, entitled Freya Plugged In. In addition to other projects and summer festivals, Freya will be the quartet in residence again for the Charlotte New Music Festival in 2014, as well as in residence at Opera Theater of Pittsburgh SummerFest 2014.