Best New Classical Ensemble

Arts & Entertainment

Though based in Austin, the Young Eight's members include Seattle violinist QUINTON I. MORRIS, the group's founder, who has brought his fledgling, all-African-American string ensemble home to show off for two springs in a row. The Eight's very launching is an act of daring: What do you do with an instrumental grouping, string octet, for which exactly one well-known piece has been written? You dig around and unearth rarities to complement Mendelssohn's popular Octet; you arrange your own music, like their Latin-funky, audience-participation encore that gives everyone a solo; you sponsor a composition competition; and you concentrate on outreach to younger musicians and audiences, a natural direction for the Eight's charismatic, photogenic players.

Quinton I. Morris' Picks

Best Ensemble:

Seattle Symphony, which he has admired since he was a teenager, when his mentor Walter Schwede was associate concertmaster. "I can remember hearing the orchestra play Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 6. The last movement was so moving and emotional that I literally had to hold back tears as I left the hall. In my opinion, if an ensemble can make a teenager that emotional, you're a pretty damn good orchestra!"

Best Classical Venue:

Benaroya Hall's Nordstrom Recital Hall. Morris has played chamber-music venues all over the world, but says this is one of the most inviting and welcoming for string players. "Every phrase and articulation can be heard, but it can be equally daunting if your intonation is bad, because everyone and their mother will hear how bad you sound."

Favorite Postconcert Hangout:

Triple Door (downtown). "The drinks are great and pretty strong."

Best Place for Catfish:

Catfish Corner in the Central District. "Any and everything that they serve there is so good. They even make their own tartar sauce. The food is a little pricey, but it's so worth it!"

Best Place to Pick Up "Ole Folks":

"If you are between 25 and 35 and you're looking for a sugar daddy or sugar mama, the Esquire Club is the place to go," says Morris. But be warned, "You will see your fair share of old men wearing red and green suits with walkers and canes and women with Jheri curls and gold teeth."

Best Barbershop:

"For a laid-back, home-atmospheric setting, go to Hodge's" on the 4400 block of Rainier Avenue South. "For a loud, hip-hop-like happenin' barbershop, go to the Shop" (in Rainier Beach).

Best Barbecue:

Jones Barbeque on MLK Way. "The sauce is absolutely fabulous, and you're guaranteed to have really sticky fingers that you'll be licking for days!"

Best Park for Hanging Out:

"I have always loved to go to Seward Park and hang out in the summers. It's always great seeing all the families and all the little teenagers trying to be so big and bad."

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