Meet the Ivalas Quartet

New CU Graduate Quartet in Residence will play free concert 

By Peter Alexander Nov. 7 at 11:40 a.m.

The Ivalas Quartet only recently arrived in Colorado, but if you follow classical music you will be hearing about them soon.

IMG_3633

Ivalas Quartet: L-R Anita Dumar, Reuben Kebede, Pedro Sanchéz, Aimée McAnulty, rehearsing at the CU College of Music. Photo by Peter Alexander.

That’s because they are the new graduate string quartet-in-residence at the University of Colorado College of Music, studying with the Takács Quartet. And they are very good — but don’t take my word for it. They will play their first full concert program in Boulder at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 18, at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church. The performance is free and open to the public.

Their program fits the standard format for student recitals — or, for that matter, most professional string quartet concerts: A classical period quartet (in this case, Haydn’s Quartet in D major, op. 71 no. 2); a 19th century quartet (Beethoven’s String Quartet in E minor, op. 59 no. 2, the “Second Razumovksy” Quartet); and one work that is more recent or less known (the First String Quartet by 20th century American composer George Walker).

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

# # # # #

Ivalas Quartet
Reuben Kebede and Anita Dumar, violin; Aimée McAnulty, viola; Pedro Sánchez, cello
7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, 2425 Colorado Ave., Boulder

Haydn: String Quartet in D major, op. 71 no. 2
George Walker: String Quartet No. 1
Beethoven: String Quartet in E minor, op. 59 no. 2

Free and open to the public

 

Takacs Quartet announces change of violist

Geraldine Walther to retire in 2020, after 15 years with quartet

By Peter Alexander Oct. 10 at 4:55 pm.

The Takacs Quartet, in residence at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has announced that retirement from the group of violist Geraldine Walther. She will be replaced by violist Richard O’Neill starting in June 2020.

unnamed-3

New Takacs membership, starting in 2020: From left, Richard O’Neill, viola; András Fejér, cello; Harumi Rhodes, second violin; Ed Dusinberre, first violin.

The other current members of  the quartet are first violinist Edward Dusinberre, who joined in 1993; second violinist Harumi Rhodes, who joined in 2018; and cellist András Fejér, the sole remaining original member of the group.

The original Takács Quartet was formed by four students at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, following a pickup soccer game. That quartet, comprising Gábor Takács Nagy, Karoly Schranz, Gábor Ormai and Fejér, first came to Boulder in 1986 as artists-in-residence at the CU College of Music. In addition to maintaining a high profile international career, the quartet presents an annual concert series on the CU campus that sells out two performances of each program, and frequently collaborate with their faculty colleagues.

Walther was quoted in a statement released by the Takacs Quartet: “I have loved being a member of the Takács Quartet and am grateful for all the friends I’ve made along the way. I am very happy to hand the baton over to the wonderful violist and musician, Richard O’Neill, and wish the group every success for their future together!”

O’Neill wrote, “Joining the Takács Quartet is the greatest honor of my life. I am thrilled to follow in the footsteps of one of my heroes, the great Geraldine Walther, whom I have listened to and adored since I was a child.”

CU College of Music Dean John Davis wrote: “Walther, whose exceptional artistry has contributed to the long-standing success and reputation of the Takács Quartet, will be sorely missed by the many people who have been impacted by her music, friendship, teaching and warm spirit. She has been a treasured part of the College of Music family, and her immense contributions here will be felt for many years to come.

“The addition of Richard (O’Neill) to the quartet is to be celebrated. Richard is a musician of the highest caliber and we are beyond thrilled that he will become the newest member of the Takács Quartet and contribute to the ongoing stellar level of the group. We welcome him to the College of Music!”

walther.cuphoto

Gerladine Walther. CU Photo.

Walther joined the Takacs Quartet from the San Francisco Symphony, where she was principal violist for 29 years. Early in her career she won the William Primrose International Competition. In addition to CU, she taught at the San Francisco Conservatory, Mills College in Oakland and Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Cal.

She also has appeared a chamber music festivals from Marlboro, Vt., to Santa Fe N.M., and frequently performed as a solo artist. Her chamber music performances include collaborations with Isaac Stern and Pinchas Zuckerman, and the Guarneri, Tokyo and St. Lawrence quartets.

unnamed-2

Richard O’Neill

Korean-American violist O’Neill has been artistic director of Ensemble DITTO, founded in 2007 to introduce chamber music to a wider and younger audience in South Korea and Asia, throughout its 13-year existence. He is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and principal violist of Camerata Pacifica in Santa Barbara, Cal.

Walther will perform with the quartet for the remainder of the their campus concerts of the 2019-20 academic year. Her last performance with the group will be at the Prague Spring Festival on May 22, 2020. O’Neill will then succeed her starting with a performance at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where he is currently on the faculty.

Takacs Quartet starts the fall season with near perfect program, beautifully played.

Music by Mozart, Bartók and Dvořák will be repeated tonight

By Peter Alexander Sept. 9 at 1:05 a.m.

Last night (Sept. 8) the Takacs Quartet began the 2019–20 season of major classical music events in Boulder with a near-perfect program: three truly great pieces of music, of contrasting periods and styles, offering different demands to the performers.

03-Takacs-Quartet-Amanda-Tipton-photography

Takács Quartet. Photo by Amanda Tipton,

As mixed programs often do, it began with music from the classical period: Mozart’s String Quartet in C major K465, one of his greatest works. Known as the “Dissonance” Quartet from the chromatic harmonies of the slow introduction, it does not sound particularly dissonant to ears that have heard Wagner and Schoenberg—not to mention Berio and Boulez.

The Takacs took their cue for their interpretation from the cheerful and engaging music that comes after the slow introduction, which they played in a straightforward way. Where some performers prefer to wring all the drama and angst they can from the harmonies, the Takacs takes a more matter-of-fact approach that fits well with all the music that follows. This interpretation makes the quartet comfortably enjoyable, but it risks missing the real challenge that Mozart’s harmonies, extreme for their time, would have posed to his audiences.

Mozart was followed by the Fourth Quartet of Bartók, one of the great works of the early 20thcentury. So well does this work distill all of the core elements of Bartók’s style, it can (and has done) serve for a whole course on the composer. After a brief and witty spoken introduction by first violinist Ed Dusinberre, who outlined the key structural features of the quartet’s five movements, the Takacs players launched into a driven, compelling reading of the quartet.

This is music that requires great energy and rhythmic command, and the Takacs provided that in spades. Thematic relationships that bind the quartet and its symmetrical form together were clearly audible, not buried in the complex textures. The devilish fourth movement conveyed all the wit inherent in Bartók’s headlong, propulsive pizzicato, even if the players were momentarily revealed to be human, after all. The final movement delivered the wild party that Dusinberre promised, ending the quartet with a wonderful flourish straight out of the first movement.

The final piece on the program was Dvořák’s String Quartet in F major, op. 96, known as the “American” Quartet. Written during an idyllic summer in Spillville, Iowa, it one of the composer’s most delightful and perfect works. This is music that smiles.

1893.Panorama1

Spillville, Iowa, in 1893, the year of Dvořák’s visit.

As pure music it is thoroughly enjoyable, but for those who know the Spillville legends, the evocation of the open, empty spaces of the American prairie—which Dvořák found to be “sad unto despair”—in the second movement, the quotation of the Scarlet Tanager’s song in the third, and the sound of the organ that Dvořák played in church every morning during the summer in the final movement, the deep nostalgia of the music becomes all the more meaningful.

Once again the Takacs shifted gears to capture the melded American/Bohemian qualities of Dvořák’s most American work, a piece that revels in the countryside and displaced Bohemians Dvořák found in Iowa as well as his love for the countryside and people of his homeland. Written in the open air of the prairie, the music came from deep within Dvořák’s soul. The Takacs’ performance was exemplary.

In fact, it was a joy to hear the whole concert, from first note to last. The Takacs revealed the individuality and character of all three works.

The program will be repeated tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Grusin Music Hall. Limited tickets are available here.

Two fall concerts, three in spring for Takács Quartet

Fall programs include music by Bartók, Beethoven, Mozart

By Peter Alexander Sept. 6 at 11:54 a.m.

06-Takacs-Quartet-Amanda-Tipton-photography.jpg

Takacs Quartet. Photo by Amanda Tipton.

The University of Colorado’s Takacs String Quartet, one of Boulder’s musical treasures, will play a program of music by Mozart, Bartók and Dvořák Sunday and Monday, Sept. 7 and 8.

A second program featuring Bartók again, plus Beethoven and Mendelssohn, will be performed Oct. 27–28. The two fall concerts are part of five Sunday–Monday pairs that the Takacs will play on campus during the year. Programs have not yet been announced for the three spring concerts.

Tickets are available for a subscription series that includes concerts by the Tesla Quartet Nov. 10-11. For ticket information, contact the box office at 303-492-8008.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

# # # # #

Takacs Quartet
2019 Fall Concerts

4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9

Mozart: String Quartet No. in C Major, K465 (“Dissonance”)
Bartók: String Quartet No. 4
Dvořák: String Quartet F Major, Op. 96 (“American”)

4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28

Beethoven: String Quartet No. 3 in D Major, op. 18 no. 3
Bartók: String Quartet No. 2
Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 2

All Performances in Grusin Music Hall

Tickets

CU Presents’ 2019–20 season features Grammy winners and nominees

Kronos Quartet returns, Eklund Opera presents It’s a Wonderful Life

By Peter Alexander April 4 at 4:15 p.m.

macky.jpg.w560h420

CU Macky Auditorium

The coming season of CU Presents at Macky Auditorium will feature the return of the Kronos Quartet, not heard in Boulder since 2014; the first appearance here by A Far Cry string orchestra; and the combination return/first local performance of Jake Heggie’s and Gene Scheer’s opera It’s a Wonderful Life, workshopped at CU in June 2018 and now scheduled for a full production by CU’s Eklund Opera Program.

These and other music, dance and theater events have been announced as part of the 2019-20 season of CU Presents. The full schedule for the season is listed here; see a schedule of the music events below .

In addition to CU’s own Takacs Quartet in their annual series on campus, the Grammy winners on the schedule are Kronos Quartet and the Chick Corea trio. A Far Cry was nominated for Grammys in 2014 and 2018.

150929afarcry0492-4K

A Far Cry sting orchestra. Photo by Yoon S. Byun.

Founded in Boston in 2007, A Far Cry is an adventurous string orchestra. They are a democratic, self-conducted ensemble in which decisions are made collectively and leadership rotates among the players—or “Criers,” as they like to call themselves. They were recently part of a commissioning project with pianist Simone Dinnerstein for Philp Glass’s Third Piano Concerto, which Dinnerstein played with the Boulder Philharmonic as part of the orchestra’s 2017–18 season.

A Far Cry will perform a new program for the tour that will bring them to Boulder on Feb. 8, 2020. Under the title “Memory,” the program will comprise works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Arvo Pärt.

Kronos

Kronos Quartet. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Over 46 years, Kronos Quartet has been known for the innovative programming and presentation of music for string quartet, and especially new works. More than 900 works have been written for Kronos, by composers from all over the world. Their extensive discography, including more than 40 studio albums, has its own Wikipedia entry that also lists compilation albums, video albums, film soundtracks, and Kronos’ contributions with other artists ranging from Linda Ronstadt to Nine Inch Nails.

Kronos has been nominated for a Grammy 11 times, and won twice. In recognition of the 2014 centennial of World War I, in 2014 they presented the film Beyond Zero in Macky. A reconstruction by Bill Morrison of film from World War I, Beyond Zero featured a score by Aleksandra Vrebalov played live by Kronos. For their performance at Macky in March 19, 2020, they will present a new program, “Music for Change: The 60s,” including a celebration of Pete Seeger’s music and a work inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Its-A-Wonderful-Life-Angels.Houston

Houston Grand Opera world premiere production of It’s a Wonderful Life

Heggie and Scheer’s It’s a Wonderful Life was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera, with the San Francisco Opera and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. The opera is based on the 1946 film of the same name, directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers.

The original production premiered in Houston Dec. 2, 2016, with subsequent performances in San Francisco and Bloomington, Ind. Prior to the premiere, the opera received workshop performances in Boulder in June 2016, through the Eklund Opera’s New Opera Workshop (CU NOW).

The Eklund Opera will present an all-new production of the opera Nov. 15–17, 2019, in Macky Auditorium.

Music events from CU Presents’ 2019–20 season are listed below:

# # # # #

Artist Series at Macky Auditorium

Music events

Chick Corea Trilogy
with Christian McBride and Brian Blade
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019,
Bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade join Chorea for an evening of Corea classics and jazz standards.

NU_KBM02829_KB-Mpofu-1-X4

Nobuntu

Nobuntu
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30
“Nobuntu”—an expression meaning feminine familial love, humility and kindness—is the name of a female a cappella quintet from Zimbabwe that performs traditional Zimbabwean songs, Afro jazz and gospel.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19

Celtic-Family-Christmas-3-300ppi-X4

Natalie McMaster and Donnell Leahy

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy
“A Celtic Family Christmas”
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17

A Far Cry string orchestra
“Memory”
Music by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Arvo Pärt and Elgar
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020

Kronos Quartet
“Music for Change: The 60s, The Years That Changed America”
7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19, 2020

Holiday Festival

Dec. 6-8, 2019
CU Boulder’s Holiday tradition featuring student choirs, bands and orchestras—along with faculty performers—in a concert of holiday favorites

Takács Quartet at Grusin Music Hall

04-Takacs-Quartet-Amanda-Tipton-photography.jpg

Takács Quartet

Chamber Series:
4 p.m. Sundays Sept. 8, Oct. 27, Jan. 12, March 8, May 3
Encore Series:
7:30 p.m. Mondays Sept. 9, Oct. 28, Jan. 13, March 9, May 4

4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11: The Takacs Quartet presents the Tesla Quartet

Eklund Opera Program

It’s a Wonderful Life
Music by Jake Heggie; Libretto by Gene Scheer
Nov. 15-17 at Macky Auditorium

The Marriage of Figaro
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
March 13-15 at Macky Auditorium

Béatrice et Bénédict
Music and libretto by Hector Berlioz, based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing
April 23-26 at the Music Theatre

# # # # #

Season tickets for these and other events presented by CU Presents are now on sale and my be purchased here. The complete listing of the CU Presents 2019–20 season, including dance performances and productions of the CU Department of Theater and Dance, may be found here.

 

 

Takács Quartet will play “Three Bs” plus one

Beethoven, Bartok, Beach and Barber part of the varied spring concert series

By Peter Alexander Jan. 10 at 11:30 a.m.

The Takács String Quartet is offering music by “Three Bs” for their spring concert series in Boulder — in fact, “Three Bs” plus one.

04-takacs-quartet-amanda-tipton-photography.jpg

Takács Quartet. Photo by Amanda Tipton.

These are not the traditional “Three Bs” of music history, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. Beethoven is there, but alongside him will be the Hungarian Béla Bartók, the remarkable American composer Amy Beach, and another American, Samuel Barber.

These composers and others will be featured across three different concert programs, performed on Sunday afternoon and Monday evening pairs: Jan. 13–14, Feb. 10–11 and April 28–29. As they often do, the quartet has invited colleagues from the CU College of Music to join them on two of the programs; pianist Jennifer Hayghe in January and baritone Andrew Garland in February.

The guests bring with them pieces from outside the quartet repertoire. With Hayghe the quartet will play the Quintet for piano and strings by Beach in January. With Garland, the February program will feature songs with string quartet by Barber (Dover Beach) and Ned Rorem (Mourning Scene).

Beyond those pieces, the bulk of the music on the three programs will comprise six works from the quartet repertoire, two each by Haydn, Beethoven and Bartók, and the less known Edvard Grieg String Quartet.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

# # # # #

Takács String Quartet
All performances in Grusin Music Hall, Imig Music Building

4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14

Haydn: String Quartet in G major, op. 76 no. 1
Beethoven: String Quartet in F major, op. 135
Amy Beach: Piano Quintet in F-sharp minor, op. 67
With Jennifer Hayghe, piano

Sold out

4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11

Samuel Barber: Dover Beach, op. 3
Ned Rorem: Mourning Scene
With Andrew Garland, baritone
Bartók: String Quartet No. 6
Grieg: String Quartet in G minor, op. 27

Limited seats available

4 p.m. Sunday, April 28 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 29

Haydn: String Quartet in C major, op. 33 no. 3
Bartók: String Quartet No. 5
Beethoven: String Quartet in C major, op. 59 no. 3

Limited seats available

Tickets 

Takacs Quartet presents campus series with new second violinist Harumi Rhodes

Programs from the heart of the chamber music repertoire

By Peter Alexander Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m.

09-Takacs-Quartet-Amanda-Tipton-photography.jpg

Takacs Quartet: Edward Dusinberre, Geraldine Walther, Harumi Rhodes, and András Fejér (L-R). Photo by Amanda Tipton

The Takacs Quartet launches their 2018–19 CU campus concert series, the first with new second violinist Harumi Rhodes, Sunday and Monday (Sept. 23–24).

Rhodes joined the quartet last spring, following the retirement of founding second violinist Károly Schranz. She has made one recording and toured with the quartet over the summer, but this will be her first year-long series as a member.

The program for the fall’s opening concerts features works by three great composers of chamber music for strings: Joseph Haydn, Schubert and Shostakovich. Two of the pieces are not well known, as they are not performed often—Haydn’s Quartet in D major, op. 20 no. 4, and Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 4. In contrast, the third work on the program, Schubert’s String Quintet in C major, is one of the greatest and most beloved chamber works of the 19th century.

Cellist David Requiro, a member of the College of Music faculty, will join the members of Takacs for the Schubert’s Quintet.

The second concert of the fall semester is scheduled for Oct. 28 and 29. It will feature another piece by Haydn—the Quartet in D minor, op. 76—alongside works by Bartók and Brahms. Notably, both concerts feature composers considered to be the heart of the Classic-Romantic chamber music repertoire.

Takacs.Dusinberre.CUphoto-X2

Edward Dusinberre

You might think that changing members in a well tuned ensemble such as the Takacs Quartet would require difficult adjustments, but Edward Dusinberre, the quartet’s first violinist, says that has not been the case. “We feel very comfortable with her,” he says of Rhodes. “We’re having a great time. She’s got chamber music and string quartets in her blood.”

He also points out that playing in a string quartet is always a process of negotiation among the ensemble members, and Rhodes fits into the environment very well. “When you’re playing chamber music, every phrase is an adjustment,” he says. “She’s got a very strong artistic voice, and that’s one of the reasons we chose her.

“Within the group there are always three or four different opinions, so that doesn’t change. It’s not like she’s coming into a situation where three of us have a standardized view of how things should be played. It’s totally not like that, so (adding Rhodes) feels like continuing the good work.”

Rhodes1

Harumi Rhodes

The transition has been very positive for Rhodes, too. She was a unable to speak to me, but sent some written observations: “Everything about joining the Takacs has changed my life for the better,” she wrote. “As soon as I joined the Takacs, I assumed a new identity. Filling this role with pride and joy is what every bone in my body was made to do.”

She has played chamber music for many years, but she has found new pleasures in the Takacs. “The biggest surprise has been the luxury of performing the same piece many times. I’ve always enjoyed the process of rehearsing and performing. But the trajectory is completely different when you have a life-long relationship with this music in this way, a relationship that spans many concerts in one season. This is new to me.”

Her email to me concluded with great enthusiasm: “I look at the season ahead and can’t wait to dive in.”

Dusinberre says that whether the pieces are familiar or not, everything on the Sept. 23–24 concerts is music the quartet enjoys. “Haydn’s Op. 20 No. 4 is one of our favorite pieces,” he says. “It’s got a slow movement where the solos are very well distributed between the parts. The minuet is tremendously fun, sort of off-kilter—Haydn tricking his audience, tricking us sometimes!”

According to Dusinberre, the first movement is one of the places where quartet playing does require negotiation among the members. “It’s got a rather simple opening theme that comes back many times, in different ways. There’s different ways of bowing it, and it’s like opening a can of worms to find out what bowing we’re going to do. We’ve already had some entertaining rehearsals on that.”

David Requiro

Cellist David Requiro

The Shostakovich Fourth Quartet is actually one that the Takacs has not played before. “It’s quite fun because it’s new for all of us, and not just Harumi, and I think that’s quite nice, because it sort of levels the playing field,” he says. “It’s a wonderful piece (that has) a strong sense of folk melodies early in the piece, and then it turns into something a bit darker and more dramatic and more exciting.”

The Schubert Quintet in C major is part of larger plans by the quartet. “We’re playing (the quintet) on the road with David (Requiro), at the White Lights Festival at Lincoln Center in October,” Dusinberre says.

“He’s a wonderful player. We’re very excited to explore this piece with him.”

# # # # #

Takacs Quartet
CU Fall Concerts

04-Takacs-Quartet-Amanda-Tipton-photography.jpg

Takacs Quartet. Photo by Amanda Tipton.

4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24
Grusin Music Hall

Haydn: String Quartet in D Major, op. 20 no. 4
Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 4 in D Major, op. 83
Schubert: String Quintet in C Major, D956
With David Requiro, cello

4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29
Grusin Music Hall

Haydn: String Quartet No. 2 in D minor, op. 76
Bartók: String Quartet No. 1
Brahms: String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, op. 51

Tickets