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(NOTE TO EDITORS: Amy Appold, first violinist of the Maia String Quartet, may be reached by e-mail at <>.)

UI string quartet in residence continues its performance series with concert Dec. 4

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Maia String Quartet, the quartet in residence at the University of Iowa School of Music, will present the second of a series of three concerts on the UI campus for the 1998-99 academic year at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 in Clapp Recital Hall.

The program will comprise three works: the String Quartet in E-flat, op. 64 no. 6 of Joseph Haydn; the Quartet No. 1 of Leos Janacek, known as the "Kreutzer Sonata" Quartet; and the String Quartet in A minor, op. 51 no. 2, of Johannes Brahms.

The concert by the Maia String Quartet will be free and open to the public.

The members of the Maia String Quartet -- Amy Kuhlmann Appold and Timothy Shiu, violins; Elizabeth Oakes, viola; and Amos Yang, cello -- are visiting assistant professors at the UI School of Music. They were selected for the UI residency by members of the string faculty at the School of Music. The Maia Quartet is also quartet-in-residence with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra of Lafayette, La., serving as principal string players in the orchestra.

The quartet opened their 1998-99 concert series at the UI on Sept. 27. The final concert of the series will be at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 11. In addition to the free concerts in Clapp Recital Hall, each UI residence period will include teaching activities in the School of Music and outreach activities arranged through the UI Arts Share program.

Appold says that the Haydn and Brahms quartets on the Dec. 4 program are relatively new pieces for the Maia Quartet. "The Haydn was chosen during a reading session that we had," she explained. "We read through several Haydn quartets, as well as quite a few other pieces, looking for a good program 'opener.' We decided on this particular Haydn quartet because after we finished playing we all started laughing -- it was so much fun to play.

"It has all the typical Haydn features that I love so much -- warmth, virtuosity, humor, a peasant-like minuet with a cute trio, and lots of surprises in the last movement."

A longer and more deeply expressive piece, the Brahms is completely different in style and sound from the Haydn quartet -- Appold describes it as "thick, lush, Romantic and complex."

"As usual with Brahms, I feel so young when I'm playing it," she added. "I always feel like the piece is a wise, 100-year-old man and I'm only a child next to it. In some ways, I hope I always feel that way."

The third piece on the program -- the Janacek First Quartet -- has been part of the Maia's repertoire much longer. Its inspiration and its title came from a novella by Leo Tolstoy, "The Kreutzer Sonata." The novella is the story of a deteriorating marriage in which the husband finally kills his wife when he suspects that she is having an affair with a violinist who is her sonata partner.

It is their heated performance of Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata -- one of the major works of the violin-piano repertoire -- that convinces the husband of his wife's infidelity. But since the story is told entirely from the husband's point of view, Tolstoy leaves unresolved the question of what -- if anything -- really took place between the wife and the violinist.

This story had great meaning for Janacek, who, when he wrote the quartet in 1923, was deeply in love with a married woman 38 years his junior. Although his love was never returned, they remained friends and Janacek shared his deepest feelings in the hundreds of letters he wrote to the younger woman.

Janacek's score is characterized by sudden juxtapositions of mood and character. The disorienting effect of these sudden mood changes vividly expresses the turbulence and irrationality of the emotions involved in Tolstoy's story.

The Maia Quartet was founded in 1990, when the four members were students at the Cleveland Institute of Music. The members were subsequently awarded fellowships at the Peabody Conservatory and the Juilliard School. They have also been awarded summer fellowships to the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and the Aspen Center for Advanced Quartet Studies, where they worked with the Emerson, Tokyo, Cleveland and American string quartets. At Juilliard they worked closely with the Juilliard Quartet and served as their teaching assistants.

The quartet has played concerts at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, for the "Music the Great Hall" series in Baltimore, at the Terrace Theatre at the Kennedy Center and as visiting artists at Harris Hall of the Aspen Music Festival. Their collaborations with leading chamber musicians have included performances with flutist Samuel Baron and violist Michael Tree of the Guarneri Quartet.

The Maia Quartet is recognized for its educational outreach activities. Their frequent invitations for short-term educational residencies have included engagements with Chamber Music Northwest, the Austin (Texas) Chamber Music Center, the Music Associates of Aspen and the city of Katsuyama, Japan. Performances for children have included a family concert at Lincoln Center on the Metropolitan Opera's "Growing Up with Opera and Friends" series and appearances for ArtsExcel, Young Audiences, Inc. and the Midori Foundation.

Prior to the selection of the Maia Quartet as quartet in residence, the UI School of Music had been without a resident string quartet since in 1996, when three members of the Stradivari String Quartet retired from the faculty at the same time.

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