Art Trumps Politics for Sparrow Quartet

Given her penchant for all things Sino, Washburn acts surprised when told that, beyond the obvious Chinese songs sung in Mandarin on her new album, there seems to be a Chinese flavor to all her music. Even Fleck senses it.

"Abby is so engaged with Chinese culture that it just ends up being in the sound," he said. "It happens naturally, which is really at the heart of the Sparrow Quartet. The Chinese inflections are there without intention."

"I guess it all has to do with being so in tune with and aware of the Chinese music aesthetic," Washburn said. "I never consciously thought of trying to bring the two cultures together." She laughed, then added, "I guess it's because I became partly Chinese before I ever thought about being a musician."

Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet will perform close to 30 dates this spring and summer, including a free show at Castle Clinton in New York's Battery Park on May 29, and other marquee dates, such as the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., on June 14, and Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., on June 25 (tour information available at abigailwasburn.com).

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