Eleven years ago, the Emerson String Quartet was auditioning younger
ensembles for a training program at the Hartt School of Music, in
Connecticut. Piles of performance tapes came in, and the Emersons
decided to listen to them while driving between destinations on a
One tape, from a young Toronto quartet, juxtaposed the expected Beethoven with a contemporary Canadian work in which the players were required to yell at the top of their lungs. The screaming began just as the Emersons were negotiating a difficult stretch of Alpine road.
"We'd heard this perfectly good Beethoven, and we were saying, 'Very nice,' when the screaming started, and we almost lost control of the car," the violinist Philip Setzer recalled. "We could all have died right then and there. Of course, we had to meet the crazy kids who sent in the tape."