Classical Music


Married—with Musicians
Charles Noble and Heather Blackburn

Arnica Quartet

Husband-and-wife musicians Charles Noble and Heather Blackburn like to say that they are part of a “four-way marriage” —artistically, that is. Along with violinists Shin Young Kwon and Fumino Ando, they make up the Arnica String Quartet, one of a number of local ensembles (among them Classical Revolution PDX and 45th Parallel) developed by Oregon Symphony players as side projects.

Though all four make their living playing variously in other ensembles, the quartet plays an important role in their musical lives. For Charles, who plays viola with the Oregon Symphony, and Heather, a cellist who freelances with groups like Pink Martini, the dynamism of quartet music is reinvigorating. “Even when I’m feeling jaded from putting in the hours at the symphony,” Charles says, “Heather’s like, ‘Let’s read some chamber music!’ and it gets me back in the spirit…. She’s just so passionate about string quartet.”

While Arnica prepares to tackle compositions by Benjamin Britten and Daniel Ott in September, the residents close to Charles and Heather’s Garden Home apartment (which sports a Tchaikovsky bust on the front door) will have plenty to be happy about, too. “A lot of our neighbors actually ask us, ‘Can you rehearse with the windows open?’” Heather says.—AA