AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) —West Texas A&M University’s Grammy Award-nominated Harrington String Quartet is renowned for making beautiful music. Now, they’re seeing if those dulcet tones can also help make delicious cakes and beers. As part of HSQ’s “Synergy in G” season, the quartet is teaming with Dr. Nick Flynn, professor of biochemistry in WT’s Paul Engler College of Agriculture & Natural Sciences, to show how sound waves can impact fermentation. Each concert weekend this season will include an interdisciplinary lecture spotlighting a concept shared between music and other fields of study at WT.
Flynn and quartet members will speak about the science of sound during an interdisciplinary lecture at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16 in Mary Moody Northen Recital Hall on WT’s Canyon campus.
Then, the quartet will perform at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Amarillo College Concert Hall Theatre.
“When Nick Flynn and I first sat down to explore the connection between music and chemistry, we quickly realized that we had enough material for a whole series of lectures,” said Rositza Jekova-Goza, HSQ first violinist and Harrington Lecturer in Violin in WT’s School of Music. “What crystallized as the ‘Chemistry of Sound’ lecture/demonstration is only the tip of the iceberg—the best, most provocative and fun to experience.”
The concert will feature Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet No. 1, Opus 76; Grażyna Bacewicz’s Piano Quintet and Bedřich Smetana’s “From My Life” string quartet. Guest artist is Jessica Osborne, piano.
Flynn coordinated two experiments with the yeast involved in both baking cakes and brewing beers. In both cases, two batches of cakes and beers were made—one each under a loop of a recording of the concert program, and one each made in silence.
Yeast-risen Bundt cakes were made by the Cake Company of Canyon and will be served at the Feb. 16 lecture.
Flynn, an experienced brewer, also brewed Baltic porters that will be served at the concert.
“Our hypothesis is that beer fermented to music will finish quicker and have a better taste, but we won’t know that until our panel of experts and audience have a chance to sample it,” Flynn said.
The lecture also will delve into how chemistry can be used to explain various concepts related to sound, including why foghorns sound like they do, the differences between natural and synthetic strings, and why soldiers do not walk in cadence on bridges.
Single tickets are $20; season packages are $50 each. Buff Gold cardholders get one free ticket per concert. Tickets will be available at showtix4u.com, in the School of Music office or at the door. For information, call 806-651-2840.
The quartet also includes Evgeny Zvonnikov, violin; Vesselin Todorov, viola; and Emmanuel Lopez, cello. Each are lecturers in the School of Music, as well; Lopez also is a Periman Distinguished Artist.
HSQ was established by a generous gift from the late Sybil B. Harrington to benefit the Panhandle community. From its founding in 1981, the quartet has brought stellar credentials and a refined sense of ensemble and musical integrity to performances across the nation and internationally.
HSQ’s collaborative recording with the Phoenix Chorale, “Northern Lights,” was distinguished as iTunes’s Best Classical Vocal Album of 2012. In 2005, the quartet also released a Grammy-nominated album of works by American composer Daniel McCarthy on the Albany Records label. Fostering an appreciation of the arts is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $115 million.
About West Texas A&M University
WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic
Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.