Best String Quartet, June 2004
“People expect the unexpected from us,” says Steve Scharf, second violinist of the Armadillo String Quartet . Indeed, the ensemble is known as much for its nonclassical approach to classical music as for its vibrant musicianship. Scharf, along with first violinist Barry Socher (also a first violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic), violist Raymond Tischer, and cellist Roger Lebow (since succeeded by Armen Ksajikian), formed the group in 1980. A favorite of serious/satirical composer Peter Schickele, the Armadillos premiered a quartet by his alter ego, P.D.Q. Bach, at Carnegie Hall in 1999. More recently, they won acclaim with a spring Colburn School tribute to Charles Ives, but the foursome’s not beyond dressing up as Mount Rushmore—or as women—for Halloween performances.