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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 1, 2004

Maia Quartet Bids Farewell To First Violinist Oct. 13

First violinist Amy Appold will make her farewell appearance with the Maia String Quartet, the quartet-in-residence at the University of Iowa School of Music, when the group plays an all-Beethoven concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, which will also feature horn players Kristin Thelander and Jeffrey Agrell, will be free and open to the public.

The Maia Quartet has given a series of chamber music concerts on campus each year since joining the UI School of Music faculty in 1998. Following Appold's farewell on Oct. 13, they will continue the annual series this year with several concerts played with the finalists to succeed Appold in the first violin position -- concerts that will be announced when the candidates have been selected.

Appold, who is leaving the quartet to accompany her husband to the University of Missouri, said that Beethoven -- her "desert island composer" -- was the natural choice for her last concert with the group.

"When we realized that I would be needing to leave the group, we decided together that we would like to finish things with a final concert where we knew in advance that it was my last one, rather than after the fact," Appold said.

"The other members of the quartet said that they wanted me to be able to pick at least some of the repertoire for the concert, a gesture that meant the world to me. And I knew right away, without a moment's hesitation, that I would pick Beethoven for at least one piece."

In consultation with the other members of the quartet, Appold eventually picked three Beethoven pieces for the program: one new for the players, one old and one that gave them a chance to share the program with faculty colleagues. They are:

-- the String Quartet in A major, op. 18 no. 5, which figured prominently in the early history of the Maia Quartet;

-- the Sextet for two horns and strings, op 81b., which gave the Maia players a chance to enjoy a particular love of theirs -- collaborating with other artists on the School of Music faculty; and

-- the String Quartet in E-flat major ("Harp"), op. 74, which Appold chose because it would be a new piece for the quartet.

"Op. 18 no. 5 is actually the first Beethoven quartet that the Maia Quartet ever played," Appold explained. "It was my first 'pick' for the original group back in 1990, when we were students at the Cleveland Institute, and I brought it to our very first reading session together. At this point we were all just looking to get chamber music credits for graduation -- our commitment to staying together long-term came later -- so, we sat down to read together. And the rest, they say, is history!"

Composed in 1795 and not published until 15 years later, the Horn Sextet is, Appold observes, "the piece with the latest opus on the concert, but definitely the earliest, even earlier than the opus 18 quartets. It has great classic horn moments such as horn calls and arpeggios, and it's a lot of fun to play."

She continued: "I feel like I've been waiting my whole life to play the Op. 74 Quartet. If you ask just about any string quartet player what is the first thing they think of when they think of that piece, I'm guessing they would tell you the coda of the first movement. I believe it stands out as one of the greatest passages in the string quartet literature as a whole. This is a passage that breaks out with first-violin arpeggios, which are then overlaid by second-violin and viola melodies, and the combination of everything is simply breathtaking.

"The first time I heard it, I honestly felt like I couldn't believe that something so amazingly wonderful had ever been written, and I honestly feel that way EVERY time I hear it. It almost always brings me to tears. It's a special, special thing to get to play it, and I can only hope to do it some justice."

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 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.

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.

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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