Quintessence is a local trio of incredibly talented musicians who are bringing their gifts and passion for classical music to the town of Grimsby. You can enjoy their music in backyard performances, special events or on Spotify and YouTube. They also offer lessons in their own “Studio Forte” located at 56 Casablanca Blvd in Grimsby. These three sisters, Miriam, Hannah and Abigail, have traveled all over the world, and have been on television, sharing their talent in a variety of venues. Now, we are lucky to have them playing and teaching music right here in Grimsby.
My Visit to Studio Forte:
Light pours through the windows of Studio Forte, gleaming off the polished surface of a baby grand piano, and glimmering off the sparkles on Miriam’s necklace. The lightness is echoed in the mood of the space – it’s light and so full of life. We chat, laugh together, they bring me a cup of tea, and I can almost hear the vibrations of lingering notes bouncing off the walls, especially when Hannah and Abigail tell me how loud it can get in this room when they all practice together. I had goosebumps imagining the sound of a cello and two violins rising in intensity, their players delighting in their own power. It all reminded me of a word I heard on my favourite classical music station once – leggiero e vivo, Italian for “Lightly yet vibrant.”
This room is full of light and vibrancy because Miriam, Hannah and Abigail Cacciacarro create light and vibrancy with their lives. These three women give others around them permission to be themselves, to be different and to be unafraid of their own power. They bring wisdom into every word they speak and the truest, most authentic passion into every note they play.
They are Quintessence, a name chosen for its reference to pursuing excellence for the glory of God. This sister-trio fills every corner of a room with the love for their craft, and their devotion to it. When I first entered their home and studio, I was greeted with smiles and the beauty of artists at work – music sheets on the table, and Miriam taking a break from making historical costumes for her and her sisters by-hand for an upcoming performance across the border.
My favourite part of our conversation was listening to the sisters talk about the joy of playing and performing together. Their chemistry as siblings and as a team is evident – the encouraging words towards each other, the “knowingness” of each other’s anomalies, the way they each know their individual, valued role in the trio. They talk about the “natural connection” they possess when they are playing:
“We can have an entire conversation with a simple look or glance while we’re playing.”
Having seen them perform live myself, I can attest that this ability makes their team dynamic appear seamless, almost telepathic. Although, they do admit the need to challenge themselves from time to time by working with new musicians and groups so they can learn to work with other people as well! This past year, they loved playing with the Brock Orchestra at the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines.
Meet the Cacciacarro Sisters
The eldest of the three sisters, Miriam, warmly describes the first time she knew she wanted to play the violin after hearing its sweet sound ringing above all the other instruments in a piece of music. Although she was encouraged by many to start with the piano, Miriam describes herself as a “hard-headed” child and resolutely built her strong music foundation with her beloved violin. She was five years old. Today, she carries this same adoration with her as she has become a skilled professional. She has completed her Grade 10 Practical and a BA in Music and now prepares for the highest-level RCM exam – her Performance ARCT – before pursuing an international career as a professional violinist. I particularly loved the way she talked about using her skills to help other young people discover there own gifts. She speaks passionately about adjusting her teaching style to each student, seeing the uniqueness of their talents and the way they each learn best. An astute teacher of her craft, Miriam strongly believes this axiom:
“Classical music seems to cut through a lot of the noise and distractions children face today.”
Miriam has seen these results in many of her students.
Following the example of her older sister, Hannah began learning the violin as well. However, at age nine, she discovered the deep resonance of the cello and courageously pursued her musical career as a cellist. Both Miriam and Abigail agreed that they are glad to have the foundational bass sound of the cello as part of the trio. Hannah’s development as a cellist has come with ebbs and flows, like all artists, as she overcame the difficulties that come along with playing the cello, namely its large size. She talks honestly about the difficulty of transporting a cello back and forth from practices and performances, and how she sometimes borrowed or rented a cello if they were traveling internationally, so she didn’t need to purchase an extra seat on an airplane for her instrument. While its heaviness might have felt like a burden at times, she credits mentors and colleagues for reminding her what she loves about it – when she sees the passion of other cellists as they play, it puts the passion back in her and reminds her that music will always be a part of her life. These are wise, honest words for any of us in our lives, careers and passions when the going gets tough.
And there’s Abigail. A young woman who’s as effervescent as the sound of the violin she plays, and wise beyond her years. She enthusiastically talked about her deep love for the piano in addition to the violin. Abigail is a self-taught pianist but decidedly keeps it as a creative outlet rather than a performance instrument – a beautiful way of keeping the love and the work of her music in a healthy balance. She spoke gratefully of her parents’ time and financial investments in developing her musical abilities and doesn’t intend to waste any of it. She has been in love with the “richness” of classical music since she was a child and pursues that every day in her music and her life, wanting her work to reflect the truth of who she is and what she loves. Her life may look different than other young women her age, but as she explained to me:
“It limits your creativity when you are always trying to fit into a box. You are capable of doing something so unique, and big and exciting, and you should live that out! This should be encouraged in young people.”
Spoken with such assurance and eloquence, it’s not a surprise that Abigail is interested in pursuing communications in the future.
Continue reading the story of Quintessence Ensemble in the next post! The discussion will outline their arrival in Grimsby and how they are establishing themselves in this unique town.