A String Quartet Creates a Soundtrack for Divorce

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 10:00 AM

In 2008, Victoria Paterson, a violinist in New York, was walking across Central Park after a dinner date with her husband, Robert, a percussionist and composer. The two were commenting on how they had several friends who were getting divorced and they didn't know how to appropriately respond.

"What do you when a friend gets divorce?" she asked. "Do you send them flowers or chocolates?"

The couple had recorded an album called "Classical Wedding Music" several years earlier and this led to an epiphany. "We began thinking of wedding music standards that could be recast," she said. Pachelbel's Canon in D, the wedding standard, became Pachelbel's Canon in Divorce (set as a minor-key dirge); Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream was reworked as Midsummer Nightmare; Beethoven's Ode to Joy became "Ode to Sorrow."

The couple became busy with their careers and put the idea aside. "Then last year we said we should just do this," said Paterson, who was the concertmaster in the pit orchestra for “The Addams Family” on Broadway and also plays for a number of weddings.

So Paterson brought together her regular ensemble, the Lumiere String Quartet, with Adam Abeshouse, the respected record producer, and they began recording the arrangements by Robert Paterson. The result is "Divorce Music," an album of 16 tracks that include the aforementioned classical adaptations, as well as a variety of pop arrangements.

There are songs on the breakup theme like Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," and the Tammy Wynette hit “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” as well as triumphant anthems including "I Will Survive" and "I'm Still Standing."

Paterson, who is quick to point out that she and her husband have been happily married for six years, said the album is "a gag gift but it’s also something when you don’t know what to do."

On Tuesday night, in honor of Valentine's Day, the Lumiere Quartet will perform selections from the album at The Delancey, a bar on the Lower East Side. Paterson promises a bonus track of sorts, "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga.

"Everybody’s welcome to attend," she said. "There will probably be a lot of single people since it's on the Lower East Side. But divorced people better show up." She paused and added, "I think the married people are a little freaked out."

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