Rocking Rachmaninoff

Mosaic Quartet’s schtick is rocking the classical music tip.
  • Mosaic Quartet’s schtick is rocking the classical music tip.

Dave Mustaine’s appearance with the San Diego Symphony was an ambitious collaboration of rock and classical. San Diego’s Mosaic Quartet is all about mixing rock and Rachmaninoff. Three members have studied at a conservatory. They mix classical passages throughout their pop songs.

“We started off writing typical electronic pop” says pianist Chetan Tierra. “Then we decided to utilize our [classical] expertise.”

Mosaic has built a database of some 1300 fans through a series of living-room concerts last year.

“We did, like, 30 shows at our house in Clairemont,” says Tierra. “We incorporated lasers, fog machines, spotlights. It was a full concert experience. Sometimes we’d do two or three shows a weekend to cover the demand. We got to know our fans personally.”

“We’d have to turn away people,” says singer/guitarist/keyboardist Jonathan Belanger. “We never had any problems [with neighbors or police]. Our drummer [Pat Knightly] would play with practice sticks to keep the noise down.

“We stopped doing the house concerts around Thanksgiving. We started doing shows at Dizzy’s [and] a yoga studio in Vista — we did three shows there. They all sold out with 70 people a show.”

The quartet is set launch a series of five house concerts in the L.A. area. Contacts for those shows grew out of Belanger’s connections he’s developed through his day job as a research analyst for a brokerage firm. “We found investors across the country who wanted to invest in the band. We were able to raise a lot more money than any record company would have given us. That’s one of the reasons we’re doing this all on our own.”

The classical connection has been helpful.

“Our biggest angel investor came to know us through my participation in the Van Cliburn international piano competition in Dallas,” says Tierra. He says the Yamaha company signed on as a Mosaic Quartet underwriter.

“The old classical music model is dying,” says Belanger. “Patrons of those arts are diminishing. Back in th ’60s everyone wanted to learn guitar because people listened to rock. We have a strong connection with classical piano. Yamaha hopes we can get people interested in the piano.”

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