Violinist Sabrina Tabby and her conductor husband, Ernesto Estigarribia, moved this fall from Bettendorf to Nashville, Tenn., but they will come back to the Quad Cities, A LOT.
Member of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra since 2019 (where Ernesto was music director of the Youth Ensembles program), Tabby in August played in the annual Riverfront Pops (conducted by Estigarribia), returned a week ago for the first QCSO Masterworks concerts in the 2023-24 season, and she’s bringing her string quartet ATLYS back here to perform Saturday, Oct. 14 at St. Ambrose University’s Galvin Fine Arts Center in Davenport, at 7:30 p.m.
ATLYS is a classically trained, crossover string quartet comprised of four women. Together, the four create a true varied ATLYS of music, filled with melodies and tunes from all kinds of cultures and genres.
Using the string quartet as their blank canvas, they veer outside of the classical music box and the traditional acoustic soundscape to develop imaginative covers of beloved music, according to their bio.
Pianist Marian Lee (who teaches at St. Ambrose and will perform with the group Saturday) called the quartet a “fierce & dynamic all-female group that performs crossover music between classical and pop genres. Their music is very fun and current – from Sia’s Chandelier to Zelda video game music to the sultry tangos of Piazzolla.”
In addition to Tabby, the all-female foursome is comprised of Jinty McTavish, violin, Rita Andrade, viola, and Sabrina’s sister, Genevieve Tabby, cello. They last did a QC concert in February 2023 at Davenport’s Raccoon Motel.
Their repertoire is basically anything but classical music, Tabby said. One piece on Saturday’s program was commissioned by a man in New York State, inspired by the Sonnenberg Gardens in a state park in the Finger Lakes. The suite has movements that each represent a different garden and recorded the work in August 2023.
The quartet has played at a music festival in that area every year since 2018, Tabby said, where they met the man who commissioned the neo-Romantic piece by Ari Fisher.
“We’re going to have a nice mix, as we like to do, the different layers of ATLYS,” she said Thursday of the program, including pop songs. Lee will perform in the Zelda video game music and tango music of Piazzolla.
Criss-crossing the country
Tabby is in her first season as concertmaster of Mankato Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota (southwest of the Twin Cities), where Estigarribia is music director in his second year. Their concerts don’t conflict with the QCSO.
He is now on the music faculty at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and will return to conduct both QCSO movie programs – all the music to screenings of “Nightmare Before Christmas” Oct. 28 and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” on Nov. 18.
Tabby enjoyed coming back last weekend for the first QCSO Masterworks concerts and she doesn’t mind traveling.
“I travel a lot with my quartet; I’ve got my suitcase is permanently packed, basically,” she said Thursday. ATLYS usually plays concerts every four to six weeks, sometimes two to three concerts a weekend.
They typically don’t feature soloists like Lee. They have done some shows with singer-songwriters.
“We rarely perform traditional chamber music with other people,” Tabby said. “That’s very special for us – we’re really, really looking forward to it.”
A founding member (2010) of the NYC-based new music ensemble, Contemporaneous, she is prominently featured on Innova Recordings album “Stream of Stars: Music of Dylan Mattingly.” In 2016, she formed the crossover, mold-breaking ATLYS, representing, for a time, Lincoln Center in performances on Holland America cruise lines around the world. ATLYS continues to tour the country, recently performing at the Red Rocks and Gorge Amphitheaters. Their recordings have been streamed over 6 million times on Spotify.
Tabby continues to travel the world actively seeking to play music of all styles, often with her husband, conductor and violist Ernesto Estigarribia. Highlights of the 2022 season included a solo appearance with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Congreso Nacional de Paraguay, and a world premiere of Michael Kropf’s violin concerto (written for her) with Contemporaneous in New York City.
From representing New York City’s Lincoln Center to participating in international conventions like the Human Rights Foundation’s Oslo Freedom Forum, ATLYS has performed over 1,000 concerts around the world.
Marian Lee made her New York City debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall as winner of the Artists International Award and has appeared as soloist and with orchestras internationally in Austria, Belgium, Italy, France, Norway, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Poland, Brazil, Byelorussia, Estonia, Hong Kong, and Thailand, as well as in Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage, Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff Hall, and the Hermitage Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In liaison with the U.S. State Department, Lee has received many grants in support of performances of American contemporary music abroad and is a former Fulbright and International Research and Exchange scholar. Lee previously taught at the University of Iowa and the University of Delaware before moving to Davenport, where she is a full professor in piano and serves as head of the keyboard area at St. Ambrose.
Most recently, the Iowa Music Teachers Association named her “Teacher of the Year” at their 2023 state conference.
L.A., Europe and remote lessons
This past May, Tabby played for a world premiere opera (with Contemporaneous) at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, over six hours long.
“It was this incredible, momentous premiere,” she said of “Stranger Love,” noting it was done with two breaks. It was only performed once, but it’s planned to be done again.
“Which I am very excited for, because it was a lot of work,” Tabby said. She had never played at the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall before. “It’s a gorgeous hall.”
She also went with the QC Youth Symphony Orchestra (led by her husband) on tour this June to Germany and Czech Republic, where she soloed in a concerto, “Moses in Nederland” by Michael Kropf (a work she premiered in 2022).
“It was wonderful; we had such a great time,” Tabby said. “Tours are grueling. It’s so exciting, of course. You want to get everything out of the experience, so you go, go, go all day.”
“There’s no rest, and all of us on the staff were also playing pretty much,” she said. “It was so much fun and I really think it brought the musicians closer together, which is what it’s all about. You make music better when you’re friends.”
Tabby still teaches violin to several of her QC students remotely, and in person when she’s back here.
Tickets for Saturday’s ATLYS concert are $20 general admission and $15 economy seating, available HERE, and SAU students with current valid student ID are free.
For more information, visit the ATLYS website HERE.