The Uptown Mandolin Quartet of Lawrence, Kansas, had a twenty-five year tradition of performing classical music on mandolin family instruments. The quartet seeks out music from all periods that will enhance the unique sound quality of the mandolin. Some standard string quartet literature is used, but often pieces are arranged by its founder and director, Jeff Dearinger (see his orchestra scores).
UMQ performs both formal and informal concerts in and around Lawrence, Kansas. They also provide music for weddings, receptions, art gallery openings, theater productions and parties.
The ensemble was founded in 1973 by Jeff Dearinger. The original group, the Lawrence Mandolin & Guitar Ensemble, varied in size and instrumentation and became a quartet in 1981. All the members learned to play their instruments specifically for this ensemble. Beth Dearinger first picked up a mandolin in 1974, Charles Higginson took up the mandola in 1976 and Mike Stewart traded his violin for a mandolin in 1992. They are all members of and perform at the annual Classical Mandolin Society of America convention.
The Uptown Mandolin Quartet plays vintage Gibson instruments, all of which were built between 1921 and 1924. On their album, the quartet plays the following instruments: 1924 F-4 Mandolin, 1921 F-4 Mandolin, 1923 H-4 Mandola, 1924 Mandocello. They use D'Addario strings.
G.P. Telemann - Concerto a 4
J.S. Bach - from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major*
Edward German - from Three Dances for Henry VIII
Maurice Ravel - from Le Tombeau De Couperin
*Transcribed by Jeff Dearinger
**Transcribed by Charlee Glinka
The Uptown Mandolin Quartet is:
Beth Dearinger - Mandolin
Mike Stewart - Mandolin
Charles Higginson - Mandola
Jeff Dearinger - Mandocello
For more information, write:
Uptown Mandolin Quartet
Lawrence, KS 66049
The following article written by J.L. Watson appeared in the November 2, 1995 Lawrence Journal World
More than 22 years after Jeff Dearinger founded the Uptown Mandolin Quartet, the group has finally released its first recording.
The reason for the delay was simple.
"We didn't know if there was a market for it," Dearinger said. "Since then we've discovered mandolin orchestras all over the country."
One of those orchestras is the Riverside Mandolin Quartet in Wichita.
"Two-and-a-half years ago we had a mandofest," Dearinger said. "They came up and we played together. They told us of a classical Mandolin Society of America. It was quite a revelation to us."
Since then Dearinger, his wife, Beth Dearinger, Charles Migginson and Mike Stewart have made pilgrimages to national mandolin gatherings to meet and play with other mandolinists. This year they will head to Providence, R.I., to share their love of mandolin music with enthusiasts from across the country.
"The mandolin is going through a renaissance right now," Dearinger said.
"The last time that happened was between 1900 and 1930. There was a huge increase in playing."
After 1930, the mandolin's popularity declined and the banjo took over the hot spot, he said.
The return of the mandolin is due, in part, to the Modern Mandolin Quartet, a California-based group that has made a number of recordings.
"Our group is kind of patterned after them," Dearinger said. "We thought, "if they can do it, why not us?"
When members of the Uptown Mandolin Quartet met their predecessors, the Californians were surprised to find a mandolin group in the Midwest.
"They told us they had never met another quartet," Beth Dearinger said. "Since then we've exchanged music with them."
The Uptown Mandolin Quarted recorded its first CD at the Lawrence Arts Center, 200 W. Ninth.
"We really like the acoustics there," Beth Dearinger said. "It's a nice room, and we recorded late at night when no one was in the building."
That led to a truer sound, but also some added background noises, including a horn honk.
"We said, 'What is that?'" Jeff Dearinger said. "We edited it out and most of it (the recording) is devoid of traffic noises.
Special thanks to the Mandolin Cafe's primary business partners.