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Aizuri Quartet - Visiting Artist Series

Thu, November 21st, 2019
7:30 pm

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Aizuri Quartet presents Gabriella Smith’s Carrot Revolution; String Quartet in B Minor, Op. 64 No. 2 by Haydn; Armenian Folk Songs by Komitas; and String Quartet in D Minor “Voces Intimae” by Sibelius.

The composers featured in this concert, titled Locally Sourced, drew inspiration from their immediate surroundings: they used the powerful connections they felt to their environment, their world, and their time to create personal stories and vivid sound worlds. For Haydn and Komitas, this was folk music from rural villages and in Komitas’s case, music that ultimately became a treasured symbol of home and identity for the Armenian diaspora. For Sibelius, it was living and writing in Järvenpää with its vast landscape and unforgiving climate, isolated from life in Helsinki. For Gabriella Smith, the idea of looking at the string quartet tradition with fresh eyes, echoing how Dr. Albert C. Barnes connected various pieces of artwork to form each ensemble at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, led her to meld different kinds of music she loves (bluegrass, Celtic fiddling, folk singing, Renaissance tunes, rock) to create the wild and energetic musical tapestry of Carrot Revolution, a work featured on the Aizuri Quartet’s 2019 Grammy-nominated album Blueprinting.

Praised by The Washington Post for “captivating” performances that draw from its notable “meld of intellect, technique and emotions,” the Aizuri Quartet was awarded the Grand Prize and the CAG Management Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, along with top prizes at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan, and the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London. Its debut album Blueprinting, featuring new works written for the Aizuri Quartet by five American composers, was released by New Amsterdam Records and nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY Award. Through its engaging and thought-provoking programs, branded by The New York Times as “genuinely exciting” and “imaginative,” the Quartet has garnered critical acclaim for bringing “a technical bravado and emotional power” to bold new commissions, and for its “flawless” (San Diego Union-Tribune) performances of the great masterpieces of the past.

Based in New York City, the Aizuri Quartet was the 2017-2018 MetLiveArts String Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, presenting five unique programs throughout the season. Previous residency engagements include: the 2015-2016 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts; resident ensemble of the 2014 Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute; and, from 2014-2016, the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. The Quartet has performed extensively throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Japan, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, and Abu Dhabi, and has commissioned and premiered new works by Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, Lembit Beecher, Paul Wiancko, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Gabriella Smith, Rene Orth, and Alyssa Weinberg. Formed in 2012 and combining four distinctive musical personalities into a unique collective, the Aizuri Quartet draws its name from “aizuri-e,” a style of predominantly blue Japanese woodblock printing that is noted for its vibrancy and incredible detail.

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