In 2011, the alternative artist Ada Milea finished recording
Insula (Island), an album she developed in collaboration
with the Balanescu Quartet. When Alexander Balanescu
returned to Romania after a 20-year absence, he
discovered Ada, whose bold and creative vision drove him
to embark on a joint project. Inspired by the adventures
of Robinson Crusoe, Insula tells the tale of a mermaid
prostitute, a pirate with a wooden leg, and a hilarious
set of grandparents. The result is a wild, exuberant, and
uniquely humorous compilation in which Ada Milea’s vocal
flexibility contrasts with Balanescu’s gentle sounds. Insula
is a modern mini-opera, a perfect harmony of comical,
absurd texts and thrilling music.
Since its formation in 1987, the Balanescu Quartet has acquired a reputation as one of the world’s leading contemporary string quartets. Its guiding force is the violin vituoso, prolific composer and Julliard graduate, Alexander Balanescu, whose desire to push the limits and belief in fluidity between different artistic fields has led the ensemble across musical frontiers into new unchartered territory. Through collaborations with David Byrne, the Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush and Kraftwerk, they have developed a unique writing and performing style, which sets them apart from any other string quartet. The Balanescu Quartet has played in a wide variety of venues, including London’s South Bank Centre and New York’s Knitting Factory, and they even opened to 10,000 Pet Shop Boys fans at Wembley Arena.
Ada Milea: vocals & guitar / Alexander Balanescu: violin / James Shenton: violin / Helen Kamminga: alto / Nicholas Holland: cello / David Kent: sound engineer