Catching Up With Matt Alber
By Benjamin Lindsay
Grammy winner Matt Alber’s new DVD, With Strings Attached, is an intimate, front-and-center look at his recent collaboration with San Francisco’s famed Cello Street Quartet. It features four of Alber’s standout singles, all freshly arranged by Nicholas Pavkovic. The new orchestration adds a layer of warmth and grandiosity to Alber’s already-stirring production. Watch a preview below, directed by Greg Sirota:
The relationship between Alber and Cello Street Quartet—comprised of musicians Gretchen Claassen, Matthew Linamen, Andres Vera, and Adam Young—began with an impromptu curbside concert. Pavkovic, a mutual friend, was who first brought the five classically-trained musicians together.
“It took one time of me going out and watching them play right in front of the Cliff’s Variety store to a crowd of 40 or 50 people, and it was just riveting,” Alber says. “They weren’t like classical musicians that I had met. They were just down to Earth, they were laughing… they were refreshing to watch, pulling out their electronic cigarettes and puffing away in between songs.”
Alber had wanted to tackle a strings project for some time, and after that first performance, it became evident to both he and Cello Street Quartet that they were a perfect match.
“I’m usually by myself on stage,” says Alber, “So to listen to your song just blossom in a way that you could never do by yourself is just incredible. To sit there and listen… with a lush arrangement of four cellos behind it actually transformed what I wanted for the song.”
But it wasn’t just their shared love of music that encouraged them to work together.
“We’re also both very activist-minded,” says Alber. “A lot of [Cello Street Quartet’s] concerts raise money for liberal services for gays and lesbians… they want to give back to the community, given that they get to do this for a living.”
In that vein, the five of them are booking concerts to promote With Strings Attached whose profits will go toward raising awareness of strife within the LGBT community.
“We’re trying to get in the door at a place called the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, and we’re close. But we’re going to book some [other] concerts together, and the concerts will be able to raise some funds and awareness around our causes.” San Francisco’s homeless youth epidemic is one such cause.
The pre-order deadline for the With Strings Attached DVD has been extended to Friday, October 26. Priced at $25, the pre-order will help Alber complete the project. Patrons will be given a pre-release link to download the HD files in early December, and a hard-copy of the DVD will be shipped just in time for the holidays.
Catch a clip of Alber’s “Velvet Goldmine” below: