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Release: April 4, 2002  

Maia Quartet bids farewell to their cellist, Amos Yang, with April 15 concert           

Three quarters of the Maia String Quartet will bid farewell to the other quarter -- cellist Amos Yang, who is leaving to take a position with the Seattle Symphony -- in a concert at 8 p.m. Monday, April 15, in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus. The concert will be free and open to the public.

Yang will be featured in piece that was written in honor of one of history's most famous amateur cellists: Mozart's Quartet in B-flat major, K. 589, written after a visit to the court of the King of Prussia. The quartet will also play Igor Stravinsky's Three Pieces for String Quartet of 1914, and they will be joined by pianist Ksenia Nosikova for Robert Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat major, op. 44.

            The Maia String Quartet is in its fourth year as quartet in residence at the UI School of Music. In addition to Yang, the members of the quartet are Amy Kuhlmann Appold and Timothy Shiu, violins; and Elizabeth Oakes, viola.

            The members of the quartet offered the following statement about the program: "After six years as a member of the Maia Quartet, our cellist, Amos Yang, will be leaving to join his wife on the west coast and take up a position with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. In this, his final Maia Quartet recital at the School of Music, we will perform the second of Mozart's 'Prussian' quartets, which give special prominence to the cello line in tribute to the King of Prussia.

            "We will also have the pleasure of collaborating with our colleague Ksenia Nosikova on the Schumann Piano Quintet, which should make a festive ending to this farewell concert to Amos Yang."

            Mozart's Quartet in B-flat is one of three that he wrote in honor of the music-loving King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia, who was an ardent amateur cellist. They were composed following a 1789 visit to the royal court in Berlin and Potsdam. The three quartets -- K 587 in D major, K. 598 in B-flat major and K. 590 in F major -- were completed during the year following Mozart's appearance at the Prussian court.

            Although Mozart was careful to give prominent melodic material to the cello in deference to the royal cellist, the quartets were never officially dedicated to the king and there is no evidence that Mozart ever sent them to Berlin. By the time he completed the three quartets in 1790, Mozart was in dire financial straits, and he sold them to a Viennese music publisher. They were published in 1791, shortly before the composer's death.

            Schumann's creativity came in sudden outbursts. Often this would lead to a period of concentrated work in a specific area of composition. Thus, up to 1839 he wrote only music for his own instrument, piano; in 1840 he wrote more than 150 songs; in 1841 he concentrated on orchestral works, completing two symphonies and several shorter works; and in 1842, he wrote mostly chamber music.

            After completing his first three string quartets during the summer, Schumann decided to return to his first source of inspiration by adding a piano to the quartet. The result was the Piano Quintet in E-flat which was written during the fall of 1842 and published in 1843. Balancing the piano against the four strings, Schumann created a sound that was new in chamber music, warm and rich in sonority. This approach, which was well suited to the Romantic style, was emulated by other composers of the 19th and early 20th centuries -- Brahms, Franck, Dvorak and others -- who wrote a series of piano quintets that have become popular staples of the chamber music repertory.

            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. 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 members of the Maia Quartet are lecturers at the UI School of Music, where they coordinate and coach the string chamber music program, in addition to individual studio teaching. The April 15 concert is the last of a series of three concerts by the Maia Quartet on campus during the 2001-02 academic year.

            The Maia Quartet was founded 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.

            Yang joined the quartet in 1996 after playing with the Deutsche Kammerakademie (German Academy of Chamber Music) in Dusseldorf and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He has won

first prize in the Grace Vamos Cello Competition and the American String Teacher's Association Cello Competition and was a finalist in the Pierre Fournier Cello Competition. He has performed a wide range of concertos and played chamber music with the Ying Quartet, pianist Ann Schein and violinists Perrin Yang and Earl Carlyss.

            Nosikova, who joined the UI faculty in 1998, has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States Europe and South America. She gave her New York debut performance in 1996 in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. She has been invited to perform at international festivals in Munster, France; Rimini, Italy; and Rovin, Yugoslavia; as well as the Aspen and Sarasota Music Festivals in the United States.

            In addition to international appearances in France, England, Brazil and Argentina, she has performed as a guest artist at several American universities, including the universities of Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. She has presented a solo recital on the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series in Chicago and undertaken a recital tour of the United Kingdom. She recorded the first solo CD of Franz Liszt's "Years of Pilgrimage."

            The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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