The Tate Theatre screening will be free for all attendees and be followed by a live video conference Q&A with Grady College alumnus Michael Peroff (ABJ ‘67), who produced, executive produced and co-wrote the film, and members of the quartet.
“Behind the Strings” dives into the lives of the members of the globally successful Shanghai Quartet. It follows them on their rise to the top and shows what it takes to stay there. It also reveals why China keeps inviting them back to play their once forbidden music.
“The story is about how a successful quartet achieved success and what it takes,” said Peroff. “It is about the life they lead, how they became successful and the price they pay.”
The story takes viewers back to the time of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Four young musicians fled to the West, as classical music was banned in China. Isolated and dejected, the musicians overcame the language and cultural barriers against them to become one of the preeminent string quartets in the United States.
The quartet studied with masters, attended Juilliard and began performing at major music festivals and well-regarded classical music venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and The Kennedy Center. Along the way, the original cellist decided to leave, and the quartet brought on a highly praised, young graduate student from Spanish Harlem with a “New York attitude.”
The pressures of their immense success, spending 180 days each year on the road, and their teaching responsibilities created a host of new challenges. The quartet persisted, though, and has played a major role in helping Western classical music gain new acceptance in China, where they now regularly sell out shows.
The film, which originally debuted in 2020, has won and been considered for numerous awards, including being named “Best Documentary Film” at the Jarvis Classical Arts Film Festival and being nominated as “Best of Festival” at the Richmond International Film Festival.
“Beyond the Strings” is being brought to campus by the Center for Asian Studies, Department of Entertainment & Media Studies, Department of History, Department of Theatre and Film Studies and the Hugh Hodgson School of Music.