CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: February 26, 1999
(NOTE TO EDITORS: Amy Appold, first violinist of the Maia String Quartet,
may be reached by e-mail at <email@example.com>.)
UI string quartet in residence concludes its 1998-99 performance
series with concert March 11
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Maia String Quartet, the quartet in residence
at the University of Iowa School of Music, will present its final concert
on the UI campus for the 1998-99 academic year at 8 p.m. Thursday, March
11 in Clapp Recital Hall.
The program comprises three works: Six Bagatelles, op. 9, by Anton Webern,
the Fourth String Quartet of Bela Bartok, and Beethoven's String Quartet
in F major, op. 59 no 1, known as the First "Razumovsky" Quartet.
The concert by the Maia String Quartet will be free and open to the
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
The quartet opened their 1998-99 concert series at the UI on Sept. 27
and played a second concert on Dec. 4. In addition to the free concerts
in Clapp Recital Hall, each UI residence period includes teaching activities
in the School of Music and outreach activities arranged through the UI
Arts Share program.
Anton Webern, together with Alban Berg and their teacher, Arnold Schoenberg,
is considered part of the "New Viennese" school that pioneered
the early 20th-century techniques of musical composition without tonality.
Of the three, it is Webern who made the most consistent use of the 12-tone
serial techniques and who wrote the most concentrated works, in which each
note and gesture seems to have great significance.
Even for Webern, the Six Bagatelles are unusually brief. Five of the
movements take less than a minute each. Webern himself said they were "very
short pieces, perhaps the shortest there have been in music up to now.
. . . I had the feeling that once the 12 notes had run out, the piece was
Bartok's six string quartets are considered among the greatest contributions
to the string quartet repertoire since Beethoven, and also among the most
important works of the 20th century. They were spread throughout his creative
life, so that they formed, in the words of Bartok's pupil Matyas Seiber,
"the backbone of his whole output."
Bartok wrote his Fourth Quartet between July and September of 1928,
shortly after he had returned home to Budapest from his first American
tour. In it he explores a wide range of instrumental effects, including
glissando (slides), pizzicato (plucked notes), sordino (mutes), ponticello
(playing very close to the bridge) and col legno (rapping the string with
the wood of the bow). Bartok even invented a special type of pizzicato,
now known as "Bartok pizzicato," in which the string is plucked
vertically and snaps back against the fingerboard with a loud crack.
Beethoven composed the three op. 59 string quartets for Count Razumovsky,
the Russian ambassador to the Imperial Court in Vienna. They were written
in 1806, around the same time as works in what is often called Beethoven's
"heroic" style: the "Kreutzer" violin Sonata, the "Appassionata"
Piano Sonata, the Fifth Piano Concerto and the "Eroica" Symphony.
Beethoven's first set of string quartets, written in 1798-1800, followed
the classical models of Haydn and Mozart. But with the "Razumovksy"
Quartets, Beethoven entered what musicologist Joseph Kerman has called
"a new artistic universe." They are much longer, more intense
works that seem to stretch the expressive and sonic possibilities of the
four string instruments to their limits.
It was little wonder, Kerman noted, "that in the 1800s quartet
players who liked (the first set of quartets) found Op. 59 a closed book.
There had never been such a quartet before." And according to one
legend, a hearer said to Beethoven "that he surely did not consider
these works to be music," to which the composer replied, "Oh,
they are not for you but for a later age."
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 its 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 (Tex.) 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
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at