The Soulstice Strings is a quartet comprised of members Lauren Sternberg, Chris Retallack, Johnene McDonald and Tor Murphy. The quartet will be featured Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. during a virtual Words & Music performance. Photo submitted

Soulstice Strings to perform at December’s virtual Words & Music

December’s Virtual Words & Music on Thursday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. will feature Soulstice Strings.
Soulstice Strings has been a favorite holiday performance at December Words & Music the past several years.

Soulstice Strings is a reunion of a String Quartet originally named the String Beings formed when members Holly Sternberg, Kelsey Kepple, and Chris Retallack were fifth- and sixth-graders at Quincy Elementary School.  At the time, they were playing in Face the Music Studio’s Elementary String Orchestra named Pulling Strings.

Johnene McDonald explains, “These young musicians were the only three children that ever practiced in the whole group and were getting very bored and ready to quit the ensemble.” To keep them in the Orchestra their instructor, Johnene McDonald, made them a promise that “if they would keep playing in the group until summer break, she would start a string quartet just for them.”

That summer the String Beings started rehearsing together as a string quartet. Johnene learned how to play the viola so she could allow Holly and Kelsey to be first and second violinists with Chris Retallack holding down the low end on the cello. The quartet excelled very quickly and soon were playing at many weddings and gigs around Plumas County.  They also recorded a CD called Mountain Chase, thanks to Jeff Kepple who produced and recorded the album.


The Soulstice Strings came into being a few winters ago around the time of the solstice, the fortuitous situation came about that Kelsey Kepple had moved back to Quincy temporarily. Johnene asked the musicians if they wanted to regroup while Kelsey was back in town. Thus, the Quartet re-bonded with the name to commemorate the Winter Solstice.

The Quartet is now comprised of members Lauren Sternberg, Chris Retallack, Johnene McDonald and Tor Murphy on viola. The program will be very eclectic with the group performing a variety of music from classic quartet pieces to festive holiday favorites.

Words & Music is a program of Plumas Arts, featuring acoustic performances of music and the spoken word. This month’s virtual performance will be available on Facebook at or at For more information about this or any of the many programs sponsored by Plumas Arts, please call (530) 283-3402.