New graduate ensemble wins audition for two-year appointment at CU
By Peter Alexander
The Ajax Quartet, a string ensemble that is less than a year old, has won the audition to study with the Takacs String Quartet at the CU College of Music, starting in September. They will succeed the Altius Quartet in the highly coveted position as the designated graduate string quartet-in-residence at the college.
The four members of the quartet—violinists Tom Yaron, Renée Hemsing-Patten, violist Mario Rivera and cellist Eric Haugen—came to the CU from different parts of the country. “There’s not any way we could have met up before CU,” Hemsing-Patten says.
“The faculty members, having auditioned all of us and knowing our playing, seemed to think we would play well together. So they introduced us to each other, and they were completely right! We hit it off right away.”
Only three weeks after they had starting working together, the Takacs asked the Ajax Quartet to play one piece for an event at The Academy. Members of the Takacs Quartet offered to coach the new group prior to that performance.
“We hadn’t even thought about auditioning for the Takacs program at that time,” Hemsing-Patten says. “But as things progressed over the fall semester, we just began to feel like everything was working out really well, and decided to go ahead and shoot for that. There was an official audition in early February.”
Having won the CU residency is the realization of a dream for the members of the quartet, she says. “I listened to recordings of them because my grandma was a violinist in quartets since I was a kid, so I’ve known who they are through my entire life. And I know the other guys have as well. It’s a dream to be able to work with them.
“We have all wanted to play in a quartet in different points in our lives, and have just never found the right group, so for us it’s something we’re really serious about pursuing.”
There will be opportunities to hear the Ajax Quartet in Boulder in the coming weeks, before their official performances as graduate quartet-in-residence next fall. At 4 p.m. Saturday, April 29, they will play a full concert at the Carillon, and at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, they will share a concert at the Academy with the Altius String Quartet. For the second program, the Ajax Quartet will play Dvořák’s American String Quartet, and both groups together will play Mendelssohn’s popular Octet for Strings.
Both performances will be free and open to the public.
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4 p.m. Saturday, April 29
The Carillon, 2525 Taft Dr., Boulder
Ajax Quartet and Altius String Quartet|
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 9
The Academy, 970 Aurora Ave., Boulder
Dvořák: String Quartet in F major, Op. .96, “American” (Ajax Quartet)
Work TBD (Altius String Quartet)
Mendelssohn: Octet in E-flat major for strings
Both concerts are free.