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Meet Laura Krumm!

Laura KrummSunday the Alexander String Quartet performs Jake Heggie’s Camille Claudel: Into the Fire with mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm at Kohl Mansion, but you can meet her today:

“Praised for her “exceptionally beautiful mezzo” Iowa native Laura Krumm is a 2013 graduate of the prestigious Adler Fellowship of the San Francisco Opera. Ms. Krumm has been heard in several roles on the company’s mainstage including Rosina in the family matinee performances of The Barber of Seville, as the Countess Ceprano and Page in Verdi’s Rigoletto, and as a Maid in the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne. Ms. Krumm added a number of roles to her repertoire while with the company. She covered Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, and Roméo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi. For the San Francisco Opera Center she created the role of Martha in the world premiere of Nolan Gassers’ The Secret Garden and she sang Laura in Jack Perla’s Love/Hate at the ODC Theater in association with the Opera Center. In concert with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Ms. Krumm performed arias from Le Nozze di Figaro, Cendrillon, and La Cenerentola. She joined the distinguished roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago as a cover in their new production of Dvorak’s Rusalka in 2014 and made her Carnegie Hall debut singing the Alto Solo in Mozart’s Requiem with the New York City Chamber Orchestra also in 2014.…”

Find out more about Laura at www.laurakrumm.com!

Sunday
May 3, 2015
7:00 pm
Music at Kohl
The Great Hall
Burlingame, California

Tel: (650) 762-1130
Web: www.musicatkohl.org

Program:
Mozart Quartet in B-flat Major, KV 589, “Prussian”
Heggie Camille Claudel: Into the Fire with mezzo soprano, Laura Krumm
Brahms Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51 No. 1

Music At Kohl Mansion This Sunday

ASQ returns to Music at Kohl Mansion this Sunday with an exciting program of Mozart, Brahms and Jake Heggie with soprano Laura Krumm:

  • Mozart: Quartet in B-flat Major, KV 589, “Prussian”
  • Heggie: Camille Claudel: Into the Fire with mezzo soprano, Laura Krumm
  • Brahms: Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51 No. 1

Explore Camille Claudel: Into the Fire

Music at Kohl: Make Music Count Campaign!

ASQ Poland Recap

ASQ in Poland

Outside the High School for Music in Krakow

It would be pointless to attempt to conceal that it’s more than two weeks now since the ASQ’s return from our invigorating, unforgettable and soon to be repeated (one hopes!) Polish tour.

Untoward ending:

UNITED AIRLINES dropped the ball in canceling our non-stop return UA 902 from Frankfurt to San Francisco with less than 12 hours electronic notice while failing to protect transit options (5 full-fare paying passengers, including the cello). Lufthansa from Warsaw to Frankfurt and ended up coming home from there in an otherwise un-coordinated and free-form manner through a variety of Munich, Washington Dulles and Houston, arriving in some cases without baggage. United Airlines did not make the mistake of emailing their usual solicitation for our opinion about “our most recent UAL itinerary” – no surprise there…

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Last minute sound check un the Sukkenice in Krakow. Just a “small” sample of the stunning art on display at the National Gallery.

Picking up on the continuation of our trip…

The Gdansk concert at the Baltic Philharmonie was memorable in every sense. The audience was wonderfully attentive, including many children and students. I was pleased to introduce our encore of the Shostakovich 1st Prelude and Fugue (Zak’s transcription) with my heartfelt appreciation of our short but unforgettable visit to this arresting Baltic city and, in particular, my personal gratitude for almost 3 hours spent in the brand new European Solidarity Centre’s Museum. For a very recently published and related article, check out Rick Steve’s syndicated feature article. I heartily endorse his experience as described therein. I certainly plan to return.

Sandy's Birthday Bash

Lining up some of the flavored vodkas to “help” celebrate Sandy’s birthday

Our post-concert celebration at a nearby up-market hotel and restaurant complex involved some local vodka as well as a selection of local beers and an excellent variety of traditional Piroshki (wonderful stuffed pastries with typically savory combinations of spicy vegetables and sometimes meat too). Simple but very satisfying and entirely appropriate. I was personally gratified to forge a spontaneous friendship with a wonderful Polish cellist, Krzysztof Karpeta, principal of the Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra. We sat up until 1:30am trying each other’s cellos, playing Bach while comparing our respective bows and instruments.

The ASQ and our film entourage had an early departure the next morning but we did not escape the touching requests for autographs from our devoted cab drivers who expertly delivered us to the Gdansk train station in good time for our express train, bound for Vienna with a stop in Warsaw — where we disembarked right on schedule at half-past noon. Somehow we came unglued from each other, straggling through an improbable variety of alternative exits from the platform and surfacing in all the wrong places – including in nearby shopping centers! Finally after nearly 20 minutes of unnecessary stress and strife, we congregated in the station arrival hall and convened once again with our trusted fleet of matching black BMWs, spiriting us away once more to the Regent Warsaw Hotel and just a couple of hours to unpack and nap before plunging back into our anticipated rehearsal madness.

Bernd Musing of Arcus Bows with Sany

Sandy with Francis Kuttner’s Egger cello and Bernd Musing of Arcus Bows. Bernd is “helping” decide which Arcus bow to use for the Brahms Piano Quintet in Sunday’s lunchtime recital at the Royal Castle.

A 10 minute chauffeured trip back downtown to the Philharmonic delivered us to our back-to-back rehearsals with our old friend, Spanish clarinetist Joan-Enric Lluna freshly arrived from Geneva — and then on to our “newest” best friend, the renowned pianist, Boris Berman. We were all done by 7:30 allowing enough time to move on to the evening’s recital of Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert in the adjacent large hall of the Philharmonic by Chinese pianist, Zee Zee. Instead however, after a long travel-day for everyone and on top of two back-to-back rehearsals, we crumpled. Back at the hotel, we were greeted by one of the ASQ’s favorite bow-makers, Bernd Müsing of Arcus Bows, who had just arrived by car from Würzburg. We enjoyed a quick and fun supper together and then turned-in early for a much needed good night’s sleep.

The last two days of our Polish tour began early and featured a pair of noon-time concerts in the breathtaking mirrored and acoustically sparkling rooms of the Royal Castle, the whole of which was entirely re-constructed between 1977 and 1989 according to the paintings of Canaletto (painted between 1770-80). We performed both concerts on the Ellen M. Egger string quartet made in 1987 by instrument maker, Francis Kuttner, and Arcus S-8/9 bows by our bow-maker, Bernd Müsing, both or whom were present for both performances in this unique space. What a treat for everyone present!!

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Post-concert dinner at the Hotel Copernicus, Krakow

We loved our reunion with Joan-Enric, as well as our new-minted collaboration with Boris. Such kindred musical-spirits are unmistakable and irresistible, especially when encountered under such happy circumstances. These were “festival” performances indeed, with creative connections to be revisited soon and often. Saturday wound up with an elegant reception hosted by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom at the Philharmonic. Sunday’s finale was a distinguished reception, hosted at the residence of the Spanish Ambassador, in honor of our collaborator, clarinetist Joan Enric Lluna, and of the distinguished young Spanish violinist Leticia Moreno who performed the Shostakovich Concerto #1 that very evening with the Warsaw Philharmonic. Another great program under the direction of the young Armenian conductor, Sergey Smbatyan. What a festival and great way to remember our last evening in Warsaw.

Alexander String Quartet in Poland

In our own shadow in the lobby at the Jaggielonian Library, site of the specially curated manuscripts and scores

This trip to Poland was exceptional – everyone agrees – and how often does that happen?

We’ll hope to return before long — certainly we made wonderful new friends and were welcomed and assisted by exceptionally talented and experienced administrators who’s polished efforts behind the scenes make it possible for so many artists of all stripes, including the ASQ, to step forward and shine. Our gratitude goes to everyone at the Ludwig van Beethoven Association. Their efforts helped reveal the beauty and urgency at the core of the great music of Beethoven and his successors — including many Polish giants — to so many contemporary audiences today.

Our thanks to US Artists International who with funds provided by the N.E.A. and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation helped support the ASQ’s trip to the 19th Annual Easter Beethoven Festival. Thanks also to Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and to San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music for their help and guidance. Also to the Krakow-San Francisco Sister City Commission who graciously provided helpful advice and support and to the DocFilm Institute at SFSU for following and documenting an unforgettable tour. Lastly to all of our Polish friends and supporters, you have our enduring admiration, our gratitude and a special place in our hearts.

ASQ April East Coast Tour

This week, the ASQ prepares to head back to the East Coast for concerts from April 18-26 in Pennsylvania and New York!

Alexander String Quartet

Saturday
April 18, 2015
7:30 pm
Alexander Chamber Music Society
Ann’s Choice Chapel
Warminster, Pennsylvania

Tel: (215) 357-8449

Program:
Mozart Quartet in B-flat Major, KV 589, “Prussian”
Shostakovich Quartet No. 4 in
D Major, Op. 83
Beethoven
Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131

Thursday
April 23, 2015
2:45 pm
Aaron Silberman Concert Series
Baruch College, City University of New York
Engelman Recital Hall
New York, New York

Tel: (646) 312-5073
Web: www.baruch.cuny.edu/
or www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac/

Program:
Mozart Quartet in B-flat Major, KV 589, “Prussian”
Brahms Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51 No. 1

Friday
April 24, 2015
7:30 pm
Baruch Performing Arts Center
Baruch College, City University of New York
Engelman Recital Hall
New York, New York

Tel: (646) 312-5073
Web: www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac/calendar/

Program:
Mozart Quartet in F Major, KV 590, “Prussian”
Shostakovich Quartet No. 4 in
D Major, Op. 83
Beethoven
Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131

Saturday
April 25, 2015
8:00 pm
Emelin Theatre
Mamaroneck, New York

Tel: (914) 698-0098
Web: www.emelin.org/events-view/classical

Program:
Mozart Quartet in B-flat Major, KV 589, “Prussian”
Shostakovich Quartet No. 4 in
D Major, Op. 83
Beethoven
Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131

Sunday
April 26, 2015
4:00 pm
Howland Chamber Music Circle
Howland Cultural Center
Beacon, New York

Tel: (845) 297-9243
Web: www.howlandmusic.org/

Program:
Brahms String Sextet in G Major, Op. 36 with violist, Toby Appeland cellist, David Requiro
Brahms String Sextet in B-flat Major, Op. 18 with violist, Toby Appel and cellist, David Requiro

On The Road in Poland

Packed into our van en route to Rzeszow with Hannah and Robert a warren, our DocFilm Institute team.

Packed into our van en route to Rzeszow with Hannah and Robert a warren, our DocFilm Institute team.

The trip to Rzeszow was challenging but fun. Our departure from Krakow’s Hotel Pod Roza was delayed because of a street marathon which route ran right in front of our hotel. The fact that the route was evidently a shortish circular one bringing the runners around every 15 minutes or so only dawned on us after a couple of passes. Not to worry – it was an otherwise lazy day, the first in fact to date on this itinerary where we merely had to travel. The Sunday morning traffic was otherwise light but having packed up the van – a virtuoso tour-de-force by our driver “Kaz,” (for Kazimir), we shoehorned ourselves into the remaining space for the 2 hour high-speed drive. We were headed down to the southeastern extremity of Poland in the southern Carpathian mountain district, a popular vacation destination directly bordering with both Ukraine and Slovakia. Our hotel comprised both very modern wing incorporating a convention facility and was connected to a perfectly maintained communist era block.

The "old" pre-1980 section of the Prezidentie Hotel where we spent two nights.

The “old” pre-1980 section of the Prezidentie Hotel where we spent two nights.

We stayed in the latter while the film crew were established in the modern center. The contrast was truly insightful, providing a glimpse into the local economy as well as a reminder of how far this country has come since the late 80’s. Rzeszow is proudly possessed of a beautiful modern Filharmoni complex where we were delighted to perform the next night. Meanwhile we each explored the nearby old-city center as well as some of the hostelries and taverns surrounding the old town hall square. The juxtaposition of at least three ultramodern shopping centers in this small city, alongside the mostly pedestrianized historic city center and a healthy supply of communist residential cinderblock style housing high-rises presented a multi-faceted impression. The audience for our program the next evening was rather younger than many and the hall memorable for it’s offset geometry and superb acoustics. Without a printed program (by design), our concert was narrated by a gracious local TV celebrity. She introduced the quartet, providing a description and brief analysis of each work between pieces. Once more we received a standing ovation and were delighted to offer Shostakovich before heading back to our hotel to change and venture back into the old city center on foot to enjoy a beer and some fine traditional Polish soup. As has been the case for many of these concerts, the start time was 7pm, quite early and thankfully allowing time to venture out afterwards for a bite to eat and a little socializing – sometimes even with the locals.

IMG_3633We continued early on Tuesday morning, leaving a half hour earlier than originally planned for our trip to Warsaw. Kaz once more chauffeured his trusty 8 passenger Fiat people mover and once again demonstrated his stunning skills in packing so much sound and video equipment into a vehicle in addition to the quartet’s essential baggage and instruments. Sequence is everything and based on his previous experience, he tweaked the plan slightly and managed to make a little more room for this almost 6 hour trip. In the absence of a motorway route to Warsaw, we encountered motorized farm equipment and tractors aw well as 12-16 wheeled commercial freight trucks on our northbound route. It was a thoroughly entertaining ride, affording a little time for napping, catching up and a break for lunch and a BP service station which offered a superb restaurant quality meal in remarkably short time. Traffic intensified as we approached Warsaw and our luxurious hotel – the Regent Warsaw. We were happy to install ourselves for an hour or so into our new digs and shake out some of the road-warrior kinks and cobwebs. Our rides to the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall awaited at 5:20 precisely – a fleet of three elegant black BMWs taking us to our appointed rehearsal with Russian/American pianist Boris Berman. We arrived a few minutes early, in time to catch the tail-end of an impressive rehearsal of Benjamin Britten’s Turn of the Screw, programmed in the Festival for Saturday evening. It’s a performance scheduled for the main hall of the Philharmonic for Saturday evening that we certainly wont want to miss!

For our own rehearsal, we had been eagerly anticipated working with Mr. Berman. We have known Boris by reputation for many years – a world-renowned artist and pedagogue, he is one of the many treasures of Yale’s School of Music, although an appointment there post-dating our own association with that august institution in the early 1980’s. This was our first meeting and as is bound to happen from time to time, he was not feeling well. Nevertheless he put his discomfort aside and soldiered through as we enjoyed getting to know each other through Brahms Op. 34. At times it was difficult to know who was suffering more, Boris or Zak who also has been wrestling with a serious cough/cold but the music-making was all there as we discovered a shared and sympathetic affinity in our approach to this beautiful work. After essentially a play though with just a few comments and tweaks, we called the rehearsal, heading alternatvely back to the Regent for most and for me, a chance to sit down with our miraculous “Mira,” the lovely and essential coordinator of all things logistical. Over coffee, we reviewed the schedule for the next two days including train schedules, logistics personnel, ground transportation and so forth and then found time to drop in on the opening of the evening’s Festival concert in the Main hall of the Philharmonic. The program presented the music of Mascagni on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of his death, performed by the Polish Orchestra conducted by Massimo Caldi. The orchestra, the music and the venue impressed this listener powerfully. What a sound and what gorgeous artistry to celebrate a frequently sidelined composer!

The trip to Gdansk began once more with our dedicated fleet of cars taking us to the central station in Warsaw where we had an appointment to “met our maker” – the luthier I mean, in the person of Francis Kuttner, maker of the fabulous quartet of Strad model instruments that we play on, better known as the Ellen M. Egger Quartet. Francis has been in Paris on business and was delighted to make this excursion to join us for a part of our exciting tour of Poland. Together we boarded the express to Gdansk for the 3 hour trip to the historic city and home of the Solidarity movement. We were met by a pair of cabs which took us swoftly around and then into the old city and our lovely hotel adjoining the Gdansk Baltic Philharmonic Hall which sits on an island all its own. We checked into our rooms with just enough for a quick and delicious lunch before being whisked off again to the Music Academy. We gave a four hour masterclass for the string, piano and wind students of this fine institution. The Academy graciously provided refreshments for the afternoon, no doubt to ensure we didn’t nod-off but the level of playing was so arresting and constantly engaging that there was no chance of any such distraction. The generous supply of tempting chocolate biscuits, coffee and tea were shared with the students, faculty and audience alike as we all celebrated the wonderful chamber repertoire, terrific instruction and talented hardworking students. What a great afternoon!

Sandy's Birthday Bash

Sandy’s Birthday Bash!

The evening was ours to enjoy without encumbrance and we took the opportunity to relax and explore separately and together, eating fine Baltic cuisine and sampling excellent Polish beer and even a vodka (possibly two)? The next day’s rehearsal in the Philharmonic Chamber Hall was a revelation of just how fine a simple room can sound when the materials and proportions are just right. Seating just about 200 people, the room was am acoustic dream come true. Moreover, the hall was all of a 30 second walk from our hotel… how convenient is that? Zak even sprinted across the cobbled courtyard in the light rain without a coat or umbrella! The moisture was welcome for ourselves and expecially the instruments too which all seemed to enjoy the bonus humidity. Zak had spent the early afternoon with Francis making some adjustments to the setup of his fiddle and Paul too had taken advantage of a few minutes of some focused attention from our favorite luthier on this viola. all in all, such a picturesque setting surrounded by water and ancient maritime buildings and vessels, this has proven an unforgettably beautiful venue.

Sandy Blogging

Writing this post

To add dimension to this excursion, I had spent nearly three hours that morning at the landmark Solidarity Museum, a stunning monument, memorial and historic informational institution providing testimony to Poland’s struggles of the past century. The beautiful and inspiring new building designed by a Gdansk based firm Fort Group, was officially opened just last year. As my photos attest, though they hardly do justice, the architectural structure which houses a library, offices (of President Walesa and many more), restaurant, gift shops, conference, lecture and meeting facilities and an impressive indoor garden is stunning. The exhibition itself is dynamic, and engrossing from the start. I can hardly say to finish since after three hours, I felt I was only beginning to grasp the significance of the story that is being told. It’s a place demanding a return visit for which I’ll allow even more time.

Gallery

From Gdansk to Rzeszow!

Zak Checks in From Poland

 

 

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