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Celebrity Travel: Go away with Ion Zanca of Dallas String Quartet

Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency on

When Ion Zanca left his native Romania for the United States, he said he went through a huge culture shock. He wasn’t as fluent in English as he had believed he was. And then there was the casual clothes his classmates wore that he found very odd. “Back in Romania, my sister would bring me clothes from Rome, so I was used to a certain style and level of fashion,” said the founder, violist and composer for Dallas String Quartet (DSQ). “But when I went to Louisiana State University, the students would wear pajamas to class and I thought it was so strange. In my early classes, they would even bring pillows!” Now 42, the Dallas-based musician is enjoying the success of DSQ’s latest release “Love Always,” which debuted at No. 2 on two Billboard charts: Classical Albums and Classical Crossover Albums.

Q: Dallas String Quartet performed last year at Gwen Stefani’s wedding to Blake Shelton in Oklahoma. What was that experience like?

A: It was a beautiful moment for a couple of reasons. First of all, the location and setup of the venue was absolutely gorgeous. It was a small, intimate wedding and it was the perfect setup to have the music of a string quartet. We played hundreds of weddings before, but to be a part of the wedding of a couple of music legends was truly special. You feel like every note that you play is heard by people who truly know music.

Q: What are some things that stand out from your previous tours?

A: One time we played a show and each of the musicians were sharing a little bit about themselves. One of our musicians in DSQ mentioned they had a cat. Well, after the show, this man approaches us at the table where we were signing CDs and he shares with us how he also has a cat. But then he proceeds to give us a bag of his cats’ hair! I will never forget how stunned we were.

Q: Rock bands have incorporated classical music, but people don't always equate rock being performed by classical musicians. Did you ever think that way, too?


A: I did at the beginning when we were trying to create a style similar to a rock band. However, after a while, I realized that if people wanted to hear rock music, they would listen to rock music. With that realization came a sense of freedom, which allowed us to really step into our own unique style (since) no one was doing string covers of Top 40 songs when we started. It was quite a different experience for listeners to hear their favorite songs in this new format, even though the melodies were the same.

Q: Where have you visited for work that you went back to later for a vacation?

A: A few places, actually. West Palm Beach and Telluride stand out the most. Florida was beautiful and the food scene was incredible. It was also nice to go to the beach with my wife and son. Telluride was special because it felt like a small European town in the mountains.

Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?


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