Chiara String Quartet Performs MENDELSSOHN, BRITTEN, BEETHOVEN, 12/18

On Sunday, December 18, 2016 at 4pm, the Chiara String Quartet(Rebecca Fischer and Hyeyung Julie Yoon, violins; Jonah Sirota, viola; Gregory Beaver, cello) will perform a concert presented by the Westchester Chamber Music Society at Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester (125 Westchester Avenue East). The Chiara's program will include Mendelssohn's String Quartet in D Major, Op. 44 No. 1; Britten's Divertimenti; and Beethoven's String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major with Grand Fugue, Op. 133.

The Chiara has adopted a new way of playing: from memory, without printed sheet music. For almost all of the Quartet's concerts, they perform entirely "by heart." Of the process, the Chiara's cellist Gregory Beaver says, "Each member must find a way to know the music inside and out - it has brought us much closer together in our music-making." After memorizing a work, the Quartet is rewarded with deeply gratifying performances where each member feels fully present in the moment, truly performing with heart, by heart.

The Chiara's concert in Westchester follows shortly after the release of the quartet's latest recording, Bartók by Heart, a 2-CD set featuring Bartók's six string quartets, played from memory, released in August 2016 on Azica. The Chiara's interpretation of Bartók has been described as, "a landmark achievement" (New York Music Daily), and praised for its "high energy and the freedom to experiment with expression" (All Music). The Arts Fuse reports that the quartet's latest album is a "gritty [and] compelling takes on this seminal group of quartets." The Chiara performed the complete Bartók cycle live from memory at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY in August and the Ravinia Festival in September.

Bartók by Heart follows Brahms by Heart, which the Chiara released on Azica in March 2014. The set includes Brahms' String Quartets and his String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111 with violist Roger Tapping. The album, played "with infectious charm, exultant phrasing and nostalgic affection" (The Strad), was recorded by Grammy Award-winning producer Judith Sherman.

The Chiara Quartet has been playing string quartets and asking probing questions since 2000. Always interested in engaging with the music at its core as well as reaching audiences, the quartet has dedicated itself to finding ways to make the musical experience meaningful for all involved. In this pursuit, the quartet has performed in venues from major concert halls to clubs and created interactive programs for all ages. Described by an audience member as "a 3-D experience for the listener," playing by heart is deeply rewarding for the Chiara as well; memorizing the score helps them to closely relate to the composer's compositional process. The Chiara's "highly virtuosic, edge-of-the-seat playing" (The Boston Globe) has garnered them awards and residencies on three continents, from small villages in Sweden to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Chiara (key-ARE-uh) is an Italian word, meaning "clear, pure, or light."

More about the Chiara Quartet: Renowned for bringing fresh excitement to traditional string quartet repertoire as well as for creating insightful interpretations of new music, the Chiara String Quartet captivates its audiences throughout the country. The Chiara has established itself as among America's most respected ensembles. They are currently Hixson-Lied Artists-in-Residence at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and were the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University from 2008-2014. For the 2015-2016 season, the Chiara was the Quartet in Residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

In addition to Bartók by Heart and Brahms by Heart, the Chiara discography also includes Jefferson Friedman's String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3 on New Amsterdam Records, the Mozart and Brahms clarinet quintets with Håkan Rosengren for SMS Classical, and the world premiere recordings of Robert Sirota's Triptych and Gabriela Lena Frank's Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout on the Quartet's own New Voice Singles label. The Chiara is also featured on Nadia Sirota's debut recording for New Amsterdam Records, first things first.

The Chiara's recent honors include the nomination of its recording of Jefferson Friedman's String Quartet No. 3 for a Grammy Award in 2011 and the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming for the 2010-2011 season. Past awards include a top prize at the Paolo Borciani International Competition, winning the Astral Artistic Services National Audition, and winning First Prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. Awarded the Guarneri Quartet Residency Award for artistic excellence by Chamber Music America, the Chiara Quartet has also been the recipient of grants from Meet The Composer, The Aaron Copland Foundation, and the Amphion Foundation.

In addition to the Chiara Quartet's regular performances in major concert halls across the country, including Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Gallery in Washington DC, the ensemble was one of the first string quartets to perform in alternative venues for chamber music performance. The Chiara Quartet has performed innovative concerts in non-classical spaces including (le) Poisson Rouge and Galapagos Art Space in New York, The Tractor Tavern in Seattle, Avant Garden in Houston, and the Hideout in Chicago, among many others. Recent highlights of the Chiara Quartet's international performances include extensive tours of China, Korea, and Sweden as well as performances at the American Academy in Rome, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, and of Steve Reich's Different Trains in Munich.

The Chiara Quartet is widely sought out for its innovative work in engagement with urban and rural communities of all ages. In 2012 the Chiara appeared with the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan as residents in the community, performing in unusual venues including a vacant storefront and a Toyota factory. In 2011, the Chiara was the first judge of the online string quartet competition "The Quartet Project Challenge," an opportunity for young quartets from around the world to post performances on YouTube and receive comments from a professional quartet. In the 2011-12 season, the Chiara presented a concert series at Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach, a unique organization serving the working poor and homeless in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Chiara has been committed to the creation of new music for string quartet since its inception, and has commissioned composers including Gabriela Lena Frank, Jefferson Friedman, Nico Muhly, Daniel Ott, Huang Ruo, Robert Sirota, Hans Tutschku, Carl Voss, and Michael Wittgraf, among others. Recent collaborators in performance include The Juilliard String Quartet, Joel Krosnick, Roger Tapping, Todd Palmer, Robert Levin, Simone Dinnerstein, Norman Fischer, Nadia Sirota, and Paul Katz, as well as members of the Orion, Ying, Cavani, and Pacifica Quartets.

In the summer, the Chiara Quartet is in residence at Greenwood Music Camp as well as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Chamber Music Institute. The Chiara trained and taught at The Juilliard School, mentoring for two years with the Juilliard Quartet, as recipients of the Lisa Arnhold Quartet Residency.



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