Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts Vermeer Quartet Shmuel Ashkenasi, Violin Mathias Tacke, Violin Richard Young, Viola Nicole Johnson, Cello Arianna String Quartet John McGrosso, Violin Julia Sakharova, Violin Joanna Mendoza, Viola Kurt Baldwin, Cello Octet
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts
Shmuel Ashkenasi, Violin
Mathias Tacke, Violin
Richard Young, Viola
Nicole Johnson, Cello
Arianna String Quartet
John McGrosso, Violin
Julia Sakharova, Violin
Joanna Mendoza, Viola
Kurt Baldwin, Cello
Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (36’)
I. Allegro moderato ma con fuoco
Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847)
With performances in practically every major city in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia, the Vermeer Quartet earned a reputation as one of the world’s great string quartets. Formed in 1969 at Marlboro, its members were originally from Israel, Germany, New York, and Nebraska. Switzerland’s Suisse wrote, “Out of this alchemy is born a thing of beauty which one can define, without hesitation, as perfection.”
Over four decades, the Vermeer appeared at virtually all the most prestigious festivals worldwide. Since 1970 they were in residence at Northern Illinois University. They were also Fellows of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, where they gave annual master classes. The Vermeer performed well over 200 works. According to Poland’s Ruch Muzyczny, “The Vermeer Quartet’s interpretations seem so nearly ideal that one can appreciate music as universal harmony.” Honored with 3 Grammy nominations, their discography includes the complete quartets of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Bartók, plus works by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Dvořák, Verdi, Shostakovich, Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Schnittke, and Brahms.
The Vermeer retired from the concert stage a decade ago, and now returns to Chicago to perform for the audience that knows them best. Nicole Johnson is playing in place of her father, Marc Johnson, who passed away in 2014.
The Arianna String Quartet has firmly established itself as one of America’s finest chamber ensembles. Their performances have been praised for “tonal warmth, fastidious balance…expressive vitality” (Chicago Tribune) and “emotional commitment and fluent virtuosity,” (Pretoria News, South Africa). Formed in 1992, the ASQ garnered national attention by taking the Grand Prize in the Fischoff Competition, First Prize in both the Coleman and Carmel Competitions, and were Laureates in the Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition.
The Arianna Quartet has appeared throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia, with frequent visits to Brazil and South Africa. They have collaborated with many of the world’s finest musicians, including members of the Vermeer, Tokyo, Cleveland and Juilliard Quartets, and their live performances have been heard on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today,” and “Live from Music Mountain”. The ASQ has recorded for Albany Records and Urtext Digital Classics, and has a long-term contract with Centaur Records.
Now in their 26th Season, highlights for 2017-18 include return trips to Brazil for the FEMUSC Festival in Jaragua do Sul, to the Barra Mansa Music Festival and Rio de Janeiro, as well as live performances on Chicago’s WFMT radio, and the completion of their recordings of the complete quartets of Beethoven for Centaur Records. The ASQ looks forward to the continuation of the Arianna Chamber Music Festival, in St. Louis, where they have been full-time faculty at the University of Missouri-St. Louis since 2000.
(Wednesday) 12:15 pm - 1:00 pm CST