Video: Members of the Daana String Quartet share "the common goal of a unified sound" when rehearsing at the UW.

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When Sonja Myklebust was in third grade, having already been playing piano for three years, she picked up the cello, though it had to be half-sized.

Now, the Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington is the cellist in the Daana String Quartet. Daana is a Sanskrit word meaning “generosity of spirit.” She gave the group its name. The cello provides the bass and the volume. “The dynamic and the tempo all start with the cello.” Violist Alessandra Barrett started instrumental study when she was 4. She says the viola is the “glue between the other parts. It’s cohesive.” The UW master’s candidate soloed when she was 13 with the New Mexico Symphony. Erin Kelly is first violin. She gives the cue to start, like a conductor, and plays the highest notes in the quartet, as the soprano. Corentin Pokorny was born and raised in France and studied violin, piano and voice. He says, “The best practice is when you’re lost in the music.” As second violin he’s the alto.
They are four musicians with “the common goal of a unified sound,” says Myklebust. Playing together is “really incredible. You’re in the middle of the current of the river and ride it to the end because you can’t stop once you’re playing a piece of music.” They have varied personal tastes, however. When not playing classical, Pokorny “listens to a mix of stuff — Baroque, Irish fiddling music, John Williams film scores.” Barrett listens to “different things. Led Zeppelin, old rock, old jazz. I like all forms of music except Christian rock.” Myklebust listens to Simon and Garfunkel. Kelly likes “old hip-hop. Biggie and Tupac.”