Edmonds-Woodway string quartet joins touring Beatles musical

"Beatles 4tet" shows (l-r) Elliot Harrison, Madeleine Jeffers, Jonathan Mah and Hannah Gorham

E-W’s “Beatles 4tet” from left: Elliot Harrison, Madeleine Jeffers, Jonathan Mah and Hannah Gorham

When the touring show “In My Life – A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles” comes to the Edmonds Center for the Arts on June 4, be on the lookout for two quartets — not just one.

The Edmonds-Woodway High School string quartet will be joining the professional actors on stage to add an element of orchestral texture to the evening.

Here’s the rundown, according to an announcement from “In My Life” spokesperson Andy Nagle:

The show: “In My Life” is the musical retelling of the Beatles story through the eyes of manager Brian Epstein and featuring the live music of renowned tribute band Abbey Road. The band features Chris Paul Overall (“Paul”), Nathaniel Bott (“John”), Jesse Wilder (“George”) and Axel Clarke (“Ringo”). Brian Epstein is played by Alxander Jon (yes, that is the correct spelling. The production includes multimedia, period costumes and vintage instruments. It has toured for years, with a critic for the Orange County Register at one point declaring, “If you see one tribute show, see this one –smart and loads of fun.” The show is widely considered by industry insiders to be the most unique Beatles show in decades.

The string quartet: Edmonds-Woodway High senior Elliot Harrison, juniors Hannah Gorham and Madeleine Jeffers and sophomore Jonathan Mah will join the band for the songs “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “A Day in the Life,” “Hello Goodbye,” and “Hey Jude.” In a special touch, “Yesterday” is played as a scene in which the Paul McCartney character plays the song for the first time for Beatles producer George Martin, with the songwriter explaining that he envisioned a string-quartet accompaniment.

How the “Beatles” connection was started: The producers of “In My Life” approached Edmonds- Woodway High School Director of Orchestras Karen Helseth, looking for a talented ensemble that could hold its own with a rock band in front of an audience. The show commonly uses a local quartet to augment the production while on tour.

The quartet’s Beatles fan: Jeffers has been a Beatles fan since her father introduced her to “Yellow Submarine” cartoons when she was young. “I love that our string quartet gets to play Beatles songs,” said Jeffers. Her favorite Beatles song is “In My Life.”

The quartet’s other musical endeavors: The members of the EWHS string quartet perform with the school’s auditioned Chamber Orchestra. The string quartet hires out for weddings and other events and may be contacted by sending an email to hannah.gorham@gmail.com. Harrison and Gorham perform in a blue grass band called “High Class Bluegrass.”

The details:
In My Life – A Musical Theatre Tribute to The Beatles plays on on Wednesday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. Tickets are $35/$45/$55 and may be purchased online at www.edmondscenterforthearts.org, by phone at 425-275-9595, by email to boxoffice@ec4arts.org or at the box office, 410 Fourth Ave. N. The show is appropriate for all ages.

And here is some more information about the EWHS string quartet:

Elliot Harrison has been playing the violin for 12 years and also plays the mandolin. He performs with a blue grass band called “High Class Bluegrass.” “I enjoy playing the violin because there are so many options. I can play classical, blue grass, jazz or rock,” said Harrison. “The violin allows me to express my emotions.”

Harrison runs cross country and track for EWHS, competes in triathlons and works as a ski instructor at Stevens Pass Ski Resort. The senior hopes to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder and study engineering and music performance. “I applied to four universities near mountains so I can ski during college,” said Harrison.

Hannah Gorham began playing the violin in kindergarten and studies under Janet Button. She also plays the tuba and plays guitar in the “High Class Bluegrass” band. She is a member of the Tri-M Honors Society, which recognizes students for academic and musical achievements and provides leadership and service opportunities for young musicians.

“I have a deep fascination with classical music. I love playing with the school’s orchestra because you really get to know people and have a bond of playing musical instruments together. I think music turns people into better people,” said Gorham.

The junior aspires to attend Pacific Lutheran University and teach music after college.

Jonathan Mah has been playing the viola for four years. He studies jazz piano and also plays the violin and guitar. In addition to playing with the EWHS Chamber Orchestra, he has been a member of the Cascade Youth Symphony Orchestra for five years. He has played with the Washington All-Star orchestras for the past two years.

“I enjoy the viola for its unique tone and balance of sound. I appreciate the ability of the viola to capture both the singing ability of the cello in the higher ranges and the darker rich tone of the violin in the low ranges,” said Mah. “I enjoy playing for my school’s orchestra as it allows me to learn and play new repertoire with people who’s company I immensely enjoy.”

The sophomore hopes to attend the University of Washington after high school and study Bio-medical engineering and continue performing the viola.

Madeleine Jeffers has been playing the cello for nine years and studies with Erin Adams. She plays with her school’s chamber orchestra and has been a member of the Cascade Youth Symphony for five years.

“The cello has a deep tone that you can’t get from other string instruments,” she said.

Jeffers has been a Beatles fan since her father introduced her to “Yellow Submarine” cartoons when she was young. “I love that our string quartet gets to play Beatles songs,” said Jeffers. Her favorite Beatles song is “In My Life.”

PHOTO TAG:
“Beatles 4tet” shows (l-r) Elliot Harrison, Madeleine Jeffers, Jonathan Mah and Hannah Gorham. “BrianandSullivans” shows Chris Paul Overall (“Paul”), Jesse Wilder (“George”), Axel Clarke (“Ringo”) and Nathaniel Bott (“John”). Alxander Jon (“Brian Epstein”) is seated.

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