String quartets grieve for inspirational Tapping – Slipped DiscSlipped Disc

Norman Lebrecht

Jan 19 2022

Tributes to the wonderful Roger Tabing, the famous three-stringed violinist, abound.

Josh Wellerstein: The first time I heard of Roger Tapping was a performance of the Ravel Strange Quartet at Yellow Barn when I was a teenager. It was an unforgettable display of every principle of chamber music playing that anyone could strive for. He was listening, driving, giving, taking, and so much more, and his performance that night was all I could think of for weeks. It definitely played a role in my decision to become a musician. Little did I know that this chamber music genius would turn out to be one of the most intelligent, honest and deeply kind human beings I have ever met.
It is impossible to say what Roger means to so many musicians around the world, whether he inspired them with his playing or his remarkably detailed and in-depth musical practice. In particular, I remember a first movement training of Beethoven Ops 132 where we didn’t get through the first 8 bars for about an hour, and yet none of us thought, as we tried to dig into the depths of this artifact, Roger was leading the way very patiently, bringing us as close as possible to the core of music. His game, his musical vision, his brilliant wit, his wit, his curiosity, his quiet fortitude, but most importantly, his kindness, make this a very painful loss to our world. If you were lucky enough to meet Roger Tabing, you became a better person in all respects after meeting him. He will be greatly missed by many and will be remembered forever.

Jimmy Clark: Roger Tabing’s loss is such a devastating blow, it robs us of our ability to breathe.
Every time I bring my hand to touch my instrument, I am reminded of the concepts he has shared with me over the years. Our conversations in interviews for the NEC thesis revealed a human prodigy and witch like no other. I found myself wishing the other side of the line would never close.
He often talked about trusting our instincts, making shapes in the most humane way. He encouraged us not to treat the result as a secret and abstract code, but rather assuming we could understand it deeply and manipulate it on a human level.
He emphasized the importance of asking simple questions while recognizing an exceptionally high level of imagination in terms of importance and character.
He could marry simplicity with depth and his presence illuminated every room. I am at a loss to speak and think of his dear family at this time.

Keats Dieffenbach: There are a few friends in my life that I really felt I saw – Roger Tabing is one of those people so dear to me.
Last summer at Yellow Barn I ordered a large Schubert G Major Quartet D887 and was thrilled to learn that Seth not only programmed it, but put me in a group alongside Roger. D887 is the final quartet of the Schubert series, which was published posthumously. The piece is deep and transcendent (and it’s 50 minutes long!), and her performance experience with Roger was no less. (I am proud to be one of the few people I had the privilege of accompanying on this second thread from Another World…)
I’m sad that I can’t remember more of his comments about specific moments in the score – it’s all a giant blur of quirky sound and the sacred company of reviving such a monumental act. After five intense weeks of working deeply on this piece that meant so much to both of us, we were permanently connected and would exchange gestures of knowledge reminding us of the depth of the experience as our paths crossed for years afterward.
What I do remember is that during that fateful summer of 2008, both by instruction and by the original example, Roger patiently showed me how to blend in with his incredibly special voice, how to accentuate the inner voice, and how to prop up the first violin without being overpowered – in essence it’s all Worth knowing about playing the second violin. I will never forget it, and I will carry the unique and profound joy of knowing Roger and making music with him—that amazing gift that anyone who spoke to him, played with him, or heard him perform at once—I will carry it along with the gift of his friendship for as long as I live.

Mi Roy: The world of classical music has lost its giants today. You’ve always called me a strong woman, but I couldn’t stop shivering and crying since talking to Seth this morning…
Dear Roger, Thank you for all the unforgettable, life-changing musical experiences, inspiring conversations, and delicious whiskey tastings. Having you as my teacher, collaborator, coach, friend and ping pong friend for the past 14 years has been one of the greatest privileges and blessings of my life. I’ll listen to Berg and Brahms with a big glass of whiskey tonight.
My heart goes out to Natasha and all my friends Yellow Barn and PMP who grieved and agonized over this unfathomable loss 💙

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