CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Sept. 15, 2000
Maia String Quartet will play Beethoven, Shostakovich and Dvorak on free
concert Sept. 29
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Maia String Quartet, the resident string quartet
at the University of Iowa School of Music, will open its season of concerts
on the UI campus for the 2000-2001 academic year at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29
in Clapp Recital Hall.
The program of the free concert comprises three works: Beethovens
String Quartet in C minor, op. 18 no. 4; Dmitri Shostakovichs Quartet
No. 7 in F-sharp minor, op. 108; and Antonin Dvoraks "American"
String Quartet in F major, op. 96.
In conjunction with the performance of the Shostakovich quartet, the Maia
String Quartet and Russian musician Oleg Timofeyev will present an introduction
to the music of Shostakovich at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11 in the UI International
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. This is their third year as
UI quartet in residence.
Beethovens Quartet in C minor was written around 1798 as part of a
group of six quartets that were published in 1801 as op. 18. Beethoven had
moved to Vienna, then the capital of the German-speaking musical world, from
the relatively provincial city of Bonn in 1792. His idol Mozart had died only
the previous year, and he hoped, in the words of an aristocratic patron, to
"receive the spirit of Mozart from the hands of Haydn."
Beethoven studied composition with Haydn, who had perfected the string quartet
form, but he chafed under the older mans teaching, and he soon began
to assert his own style. Even after he broke free of Haydns teaching
he took a long time to write his first quartets, knowing they would attract
attention and wanting to be certain they would stand up against the works
of his former teacher. In fact, these quartets are considered among the first
great works of the young Beethoven, combining the classical style and structure
of Haydn and Mozart with his own strong, independent identity. The C minor
quartet is the stormiest of the set, sharing the mood of his Fifth Symphony,
also in C minor.
Shostakovich wrote 15 string quartets, all but one of them between the years
of 1944, near the end of World War II, and 1974, the year before the composer's
death. Like much of the music written in the last 30 years of Shostakovich's
life, they are regarded as highly personal works, conforming outwardly to
the expectations of the Soviet authorities but also containing deeply felt
expressions of private feelings.
The Seventh Quartet was written in 1960, in memory of the composers
wife, who had died in 1954. It is the composers shortest string quartet
and has an underlying melancholy mood
hroughout. It is written in three movements, but their close thematic links
create the impression of a single, varied movement.
Dvorak spent the summer of 1893 in the tiny Czech-American community of
Spillville, Iowa. He was taking summer vacation from his position as director
of the American Conservatory in New York and had just completed his most famous
work, the "New World" Symphony, which was premiered the following
winter by the New York Philharmonic.
The summer was a relaxing and idyllic time for the composer, who enjoyed
wandering through the quiet Iowa countryside and along the Turkey River outside
Spillville. Recapturing the pleasure he had at home visiting the Czech countryside,
Dvorak wrote two of his most charming and beautiful pieces of chamber music
in Spillville, a string quartet and a string quintet, both known by the name
Founded in 1990, the Maia Quartet has established itself nationally with
performances in major concert halls including Alice Tully Hall in New York,
the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Harris Hall at
the Aspen Music Festival. In 1999 they gave a concert at the German Embassy
in Washington, in honor of the Czech Republics entry into NATO. In recent
years they have collaborated with other leading chamber musicians around the
world, and they have had summer teaching engagements at the Interlochen Arts
Academy, the Austin Chamber Music Festival, the South Carolina Governors
School for the Arts and the Cedar Rapids Symphony School. Prior to coming
to Iowa, they also taught on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory.
The quartet has gained wide recognition for its educational outreach activities.
It has participated in a three-year project in partnership with the Aspen
Music Festival under a grant from the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Foundation
aimed at building adult audiences. The members of the quartet have shared
their love of music with children under the auspices of Young Audiences, Inc.,
and the Midori Foundation, and they have given performances for families with
children at Lincoln Center and the U.N. School in New York.
The concert and discussion by the Maia Quartet are part of "Russian
Unorthodox," a series of concerts and other events at the UI focusing
on music from Russia from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries. "Russian
Unorthodox" will include a Festival of Contemporary Russian Music, presented
by the UI Center for New Music Sept. 28-Oct. 1; performances of Shostakovich
string quartets by the Emerson Quartet at 8 p.m. Friday Oct. 20 and at 3 p.m.
Sunday, Oct 22 in Clapp Recital Hall; and a discussion of the Shostakovich
quartets with the Emerson Quartet at noon Sunday, Oct. 22 in the UI Museum
Additional concerts in the 2000-2001 series of concerts by the Maia Quartet
will be at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23 and 8 p.m. Friday, April 20. All performances
will be in Clapp Recital Hall and will be free and open to the public.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.
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