Vancouver’s Black Dog String Quartet Showcase A Hybrid Of Stylistic And Thematic Approaches With New Album ‘A Thousand Times Brighter’

Set for release across all streaming platforms on April 28, ‘A Thousand Times Richer’ from Vancouver’s Black Dog String Quartet finds the artists dive deep into a rich reserve of shared dreams and collective wisdom.

With nine new compositions that draw from a network of disciplines, including contemporary classical, folk and fiddle music, right up to chamber pop, ‘A Thousand Times Brighter’ transforms Black Dog String Quartet’s vision into an emotion-packed experience. 

“These songs present the quartet in an unique role: the quartet as a band, forming the energetic core of the music, with support on some tracks from upright bass, drums, and brass instruments. The composition reflects our collective interests in contemporary composition, fiddle, folk, and pop music. Recognizable pop forms are mixed with extended instrumental sections, unexpected textures, and extended string techniques. There are stylistic elements borrowed from fiddle music, contemporary classical, Romantic-period art song (especially German Lieder), contemporary folk, and Balinese gamelan.

The album’s primary thematic material is ecology and the natural world. The songs explore specific western Canadian environments such as the interior plateau, the coastal rainforest, and the prairies, as well as our human relationship with these places. Woven through this imagery is a narrative of deeply personal reflections on mental health, intimacy, and dreams.”

It is very fortunate that the album even exists, considering the tragedy which ensued during its creation. Producer and engineer, Olivia Quan, had nearly completed mixing the album when she died suddenly and unexpectedly of natural causes, at just 25 years of age. The final adjustments were done by her colleague, Tom Dobrzanski.

“Olivia was a young audio engineering phenom, having already worked on multiple Juno-nominated recordings, and the BDSQ considered her a friend. We had specifically selected her to work on this project with us after having worked with her as a session quartet on multiple other artists’ albums.”

The Olivia Quan Award for Audio Excellence was set up in Olivia’s memory by her family and colleagues through Music BC. The remaining fees from the album which were owed to Olivia at the time of her passing, have been donated to this scholarship fund for promising young engineers, while the album, ‘A Thousand Times Brighter’, has been dedicated to Olivia, with the olive tree imagery on the cover is also in homage to her.

Black Dog String Quartet comprises Elyse Jacobson and Molly MacKinnon on violin, John Kastelic on viola, and Doug Gorkoff on cello. Vocals are provided by John Kastelic, Chelsea Rose, and Naomi Kavka.

The quartet was formed in 2007, and the group, who include some of BCs finest musicians, has appeared on the recordings of artists such as 54-40, Marianas Trench, Bleeding Through, and many others. Individual members, meanwhile, have performed live on stage with the likes of Rod Stewart, Kanye West, Sting, Michael Buble, Mariah Carey, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Video Games Live.

Tracks such as ‘Two’ (which can be watched below) perfectly illustrate the beautiful alignment between the group’s musical talent and contemporary stylings.

‘A Thousand Times Brighter’ is out this Friday, 28 April. You can find out more about Black Dog String Quartet and their music online on their official website, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Black Dog String Quartet - Two (Official Video)

About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email