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Release: Immediate

Maia Quartet, new UI String quartet in residence, presents it first concert on campus Sept. 27

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Maia String Quartet, recently appointed quartet in residence at the University of Iowa School of Music, will present its first concert on the UI campus at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27 in Clapp Recital Hall.

An established quartet that tours to major concert halls and music festivals around the country, the quartet will be in residence on the UI campus three times during the academic year and will play a free concert in Clapp Recital Hall during each residence period. Subsequent concerts during the 1998-99 season will be at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 and at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 11.

For the Sept. 27 concert, the Maia Quartet will play Beethoven's String Quartet in G major, Op. 18 no. 2, the String Quartet No. 1 of Pierre Jalbert, and the String Quartet No. 2 of Alexander Borodin.

In addition to the Sept. 27 concert, the Maia Quartet's first visit to the UI will include an appearance at the season-opening concert by the University Symphony and conductor William LaRue Jones at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 in Hancher Auditorium. The members of the quartet will be soloists for Edward Elgar's Introduction and Allegro for string quartet and string orchestra.

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

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 that will be arranged through the UI Arts Share office.

Appold, the Maia's first violinist, said the quartet is excited about the residency. "When we came to Iowa City last year we were only there for one day, but we just loved it," she said. "It's obviously a great college town, where you can sense that you are part of an intellectual community.

"We really enjoyed it for that reason, and the fact that everybody that we met had such warmth and openness toward us. It was such a welcoming feeling we got from the string faculty at the School of Music, from the administration and everyone that we met."

For their first full concert at the UI, the quartet chose to introduce themselves to local audiences by including on their program a new piece that, since it was written specifically for them, is a very personal part of their own identity. Jalbert's String Quartet was written specifically for the Maia Quartet with the support of a Guggenhiem grant and premiered by the quartet in 1996 at Alice Tully Hall in New York's Lincoln Center.

The relationship between the players and the composer has been one of mutual give and take. The Maia Quartet worked closely with Jalbert to prepare for the premiere, and as they have subsequently played his piece around the country they have continued to work with him to further refine their interpretation. At the same time the composer has responded to their performances, making minor adjustments in the score.

Jalbert, currently on the faculty of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, fuses a variety of styles in the quartet. A student of American composer George Crumb, he draws strongly on the 20th-century string quartet repertoire, including not only Crumb's delicate soundscapes but also the works of Bartok and Ravel.

These classical influences are combined by Jalbert with influences from rock and jazz, which the players believe makes the score accessible to a broad audience. Shiu, the quartet's second violinist, says "we have found it to be a piece that speaks directly to audiences. A lot of people come away saying, 'this is a piece I could really 'get'." And Appold has no doubt which of the varied influences should dominate. "If we are doing it right," she says, "it is less Bartok and more rock 'n' roll."

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.