A short blog, or “shblog’ about the ASQ in NYC this week. Monday we begin our spring residency week at Baruch College. It is great to be get back twice a year and connect with the marvelous students, faculty and our friends in the fabulous Baruch Performing Arts Center (BPAC). The interdisciplinary sessions include classes in English, World Literature, Mathematics, Physics, Music History, Theatre and Communications (a big one for the ASQ). Most of the classes will be held in the concert hall which was called by the New York Times “the best space for chamber music in new york” in the review we received during our Shostakovich cycle a few years ago. It is a delight to watch the students’ faces light up when they experience the impact of the string quartet live in that space.
The special events associated with the residency this week center around the complete quartets of Bela Bartok, which we will perform on Monday and Friday evenings at 7:30 in the Engleman Recital Hall. Though we will play other works as well during the class sessions the students will all get a bit of Bartok in most every class. This is Rock ‘n Roll for the string quartet. Bartok is powerful stuff. We find young people really get this music.
On Thursday afternoon at 2;45, also in Engleman the beautiful house piano (a Steinway model “D”) will get a real work out from the magnificent Joyce Yang, who will join us in the Brahms Piano Quintet. Joyce’s playing transcends age and time. She gives everyone in her audience and her colleagues a glimpse of what music making must be like in heaven. Yes, her playing gets me thinking in off the chart ways. The students will hear her also in a few class settings and she has so generous in what she has offered in these sessions in previous years.
We are all playing on the gorgeous set of instruments made by Francis Kuttner in 1987, the “Ellen M. Eggers” quartet of instruments. In June we will record the Bartok cycle on these fiddles, as we did our most recent complete cycle of the Beethoven Quartets. It’s a blast to make music on these great instruments. For me it feels like one huge 16 string instrument resonating gloriously. It reminds me, and has since we first played them all together, of the great Budapest String Quartet library of congress recordings when they played on a similar set of matched Stradivari”s. Francis says that he didn’t set out to make a “matched set” but indeed they are phenomenally suited to one another.
We will be giving a talk to the students at the Juilliard School early on Thursday evening, and on Sunday we will once again be joined by Joyce Yang when we perform our dear friends Sid and Shirley Singers series at their home in Mamaroneck. Sid and Shirley played “matchmaker” , introducing us to Joyce, for which we are most totally grateful.