Crane School of Music Hosts the Alexander String Quartet

09.19.12

Alexander-String-Quartet
From left, the Alexander String Quartet is comprised of Zakarias Grafilo, violin; Frederick Lifsitz, violin; Paul Yarbrough, viola, and Sandy Wilson, cello (Photo credit: Rory Earnshaw).

The world-renowned Alexander String Quartet will serve as guest artists-in-residence at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music next week. Their visit will include a guest artist concert on Monday, Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sara M. Snell Music Theater.

The quartet will present two remarkable works—Zoltán Kodály’s String Quartet No. 2, Op. 10, and Ludwig von Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 in E-Flat Major, Op. 127.

Kodály’s second string quartet, which is influenced by the Hungarian folk music the composer so loved, has an unusual musical structure, opening with a sonata-form movement and closing with an exciting series of dances. Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 was commissioned by Russian Prince Niklas Galitzin, and is seen as the most traditional of the composer’s late quartets, but the complexity and originality of the music cannot be denied.

This concert is free, and the public is invited to attend.

The Alexander String Quartet consists of Zakarias Grafilo and Frederick Lifsitz on violin, Paul Yarbrough on viola and Sandy Wilson on cello.

Following their visit to Crane, the quartet will serve as artists-in-residence at St. Lawrence University, Canton, and will also present free concerts there. They will offer an informal matinee performance at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 25 in the Petersen-Kermani Performance Hall, and a formal concert at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27 in Gulick Theater. For more information, visit www.stlawu.edu.

To learn more about the more than 300 performances presented at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music each year, visit www.potsdam.edu/crane.

About the guest artist:

The Alexander String Quartet has performed in the major music capitals of five continents, securing its standing among the world’s premier ensembles over nearly three decades. Widely admired for its interpretations of Beethoven, Mozart and Shostakovich, the quartet has also established itself as an important advocate of new music through over 25 commissions and numerous premiere performances. The Alexander String Quartet is a major artistic presence in its home base of San Francisco, serving there as directors of the Morrison Chamber Music Center at the School of Music and Dance in the College of Arts and Humanities at San Francisco State University and Ensemble in Residence of San Francisco Performances.

The Alexander String Quartet’s annual calendar of concerts includes engagements at major halls throughout North America and Europe. The quartet has appeared at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City; Jordan Hall in Boston; the Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., and at chamber music societies and universities across North America. Recent overseas tours have brought them to the U.K., the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Greece, the Republic of Georgia, Argentina and the Philippines. Among the quartet’s more unusual collaborations has been numerous performances of Eddie Sauter’s seminal Third Stream work, “Focus,” in collaboration with Branford Marsalis, David Sánchez and Andrew Speight.

A particular highlight of the last season was a celebratory concert in February 2012, marking the quartet’s 30th anniversary. For the occasion, San Francisco Performances commissioned a new work by Jake Heggie, “Camille Claudel: Into the Fire,” a work for string quartet and mezzo-soprano; the Alexander was joined in the world premiere by Joyce DiDonato. Other highlights of the 2011-12 season included two multiple concert series for San Francisco Performances, one presenting the complete quartets of Bartók and Kodály and the other music of Schubert; a Dvořák series for Mondavi Center, and a continuing annual series at Baruch College in New York City, this season featuring the Bartók cycle. Other important series include Concerts International in Memphis, the Tuesday Evening Concert Series in Charlottesville, the Asheville Chamber Music Series and the inaugural concert of a new chamber music series at the Capitol Theatre at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Fla. They also continue their annual residencies at Allegheny College and St. Lawrence University, this year in collaboration with The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

The Alexander String Quartet added considerably to its distinguished and wide-ranging discography over the past decade. The ASQ’s three newest releases on the FoghornClassics label in the spring of 2012 include works by Brahms, Gershwin, Kern, Beethoven and new commissions from Paul Chihara, Veronika Krausas and Michael Gandolfi. A forthcoming Bartók/Kodály cycle recorded on the renowned Ellen M. Egger matched quartet of instruments built by San Francisco luthier Francis Kuttner will be released in the fall.

The Alexander String Quartet was formed in New York City in 1981 and the following year became the first string quartet to win the Concert Artists Guild Competition. In 1985, the quartet captured international attention as the first American quartet to win the London International String Quartet Competition, receiving both the jury’s highest award and the Audience Prize. In May 1995, Allegheny College awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees to the members of the quartet in recognition of their unique contribution to the arts. Honorary degrees were conferred on the ensemble by St. Lawrence University, Canton, in May 2000.

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution.