Video didn’t kill the radio star

String quartets are often associated with the smooth, classical melodies of Mozart and Bach — a musical standard that new music group, Radio Music Society hopes to redefine by performing popular, top 40 songs with string instruments.

Founded a year ago by third-year College students Alex and Chris Lumain and Alyssa D’Angelo and third-year Batten student Brendan Rijke, the organization began as a small string quartet playing pop music in the common room of Humphreys dorm.

“It was an activity that my brother and I did in high school,” Alex Lumain said. “There are a lot of people that would love to do this kind of thing so we might as well spread it.”

Since then, the group has grown to become an official contracted independent organization, performing at various events around Grounds, including Relay for Life and the Academical Village People’s 20th Anniversary Concert. The organization consists of 12 members divided among three quartets, with two violinists, a violist and a cellist in each.

After months of anticipation and preparation, the group held its first concert in the Chapel last Friday night, which was co-sponsored by the University Programs Council. The group delivered lively renditions of popular songs by Taylor Swift, One Republic and Britney Spears, among others.

“In terms of vocal groups at U.Va., there’s a lot more diversity,” third-year College student Katie Zimmerman said. “[But] instrumental groups [are] much more one-dimensional — there’s the symphony and more classical and formal types of music. This group is definitely very unique.”

The concert offered more than a few pleasant surprises. About mid-way through the show, third-year and AVP member Jacob Irby sang alongside the quartet’s rendition of Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful.” Like the group’s founders, Irby lived in Humphreys during his first year and has played a supporting role in Radio Music Society from the start.

As for future endeavors, group members seek to develop their arranging capabilities and establish themselves among other popular music groups on Grounds.

“The general consensus is that we want this group to survive,” Alex Lumain said. “This is only the second semester that it’s been around and there are nine [out of 12] of us that are third-years … when we graduate there’s going to be a mass exodus, and we’re afraid that we will have to start over.”

Based on the full house and standing ovation from the audience, it is unlikely that the Radio Music Society will be packing away its instruments anytime soon.

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