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CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL | Robert Pycior: 'Quarantine'


Rochester violinist, teacher, and film composer Robert Pycior is an intriguing figure. Perhaps best known as the fiddler for the idiosyncratic Americana band O'Death, Pycior is also member of the experimental folk duo North Collins and a musical contributor to numerous film projects, including several scored by the ethereal and moody composer Nathan Halpern. Pycior's latest composition, "Quarantine," certainly has a cinematic quality. The three-movement work for violin and looping station is simultaneously beautiful and slightly unsettling. The first movement begins with quizzical pizzicato on the violin, before additional layers of bowed strings create a kind of canned, MIDI-esque orchestra. Pretty flourishes escalate to a claustrophobic, almost grotesque sound, before enigmatic string plucking returns. The subsequent second and third movements contain three equal elements: European Romanticism, unassuming American folk, and electronic experimentalism. Pycior's swirling approach to string orchestration is at times similar to that of Owen Pallett and his former project Final Fantasy, but Pycior veers away from Pallett's brand of grandiose pop in favor of unpredictable, kaleidoscopic music with symphonic ambitions. Video of Pycior performing "Quarantine" can be found at