Once again another year has flown by for the Alexander String Quartet. 2016 has been another great year spanning the end of 35th and into our 36th seasons. We spent the actual anniversary of our first concert (August 4th) spread from pillar to post. Fred was in Boston visiting family, Paul was keeping the home fires burning in California and Zak and Sandy coincidentally joined up with their respective families on the Big Island of Hawaii to celebrate with cocktails and mud-pie. Thirty Five is a big number in the String Quartet business and the ASQ is collectively both very proud and enormously thankful to our many friends, fans, presenters, collaborators, supporters, and most importantly, for our families who in their unique and essential ways, continue to invest in and maintain our “small but international family business.”
Some few highlights in no particular order include, our final transition to 21st century technologies in the form of large format iPad Pros (12.9 inch) for storing and reading/editing and performing our extensive repertoire. Fred (who is otherwise averse to carrying any excessive weight) is still holding out with the analogue version. Meanwhile the remaining three of us have the advantage of having everything with us at all times. In my case, I recently noted that this includes more than 300 scores!
At this midpoint of the season, we are in the process of performing all the Britten Quartets (including attendant Walton, Pavel Haas and Bartók quartets), beginning another complete Shostakovich Cycle, wrapping up a major Beethoven project with attendant works by George Rochberg, Robert Greenberg, Mozart and Mendelssohn), re-recording four late Mozart Quartets, while preparing the Mozart Piano Quartets and Clarinet Quintet for recording soon. Added to this we have premiered newly commissioned quartets by Cindy Cox and Tarik O’Regan this season and will continue to introduce these works to sider audiences in 2017 and beyond.
The quartet is ever appreciative of our (mostly) hard-working students, both undergrad and graduate at the Morrison Chamber Music Center at SFSU. Our unique and distinguished program celebrated its 60th anniversary this year and we proudly celebrated that number with a festive gala evening at Hillsborough’s Carolands in March. The ASQ has served as directors of the Instructional Program for nearly 27 years and we are looking forward to our forthcoming 12th Annual Yehudi Menuhin Seminar in just a little over a month.
This year also marked the release of the documentary Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet. Part road movie, part music documentary, part portrait film, Con Moto follows the ASQ during our tour through Poland at the 2015 Beethoven Easter Festival. The film is an elegant collaboration with the Documentary Film Institute at San Francisco State University and gives a behind the scenes look at chamber music and life on the road. See the trailer below, and watch the full 28-minute film on FoghornClassics.com!
Everyone is in great health and our families are all growing and thriving. The quartet kids are transitioning and relocating, heading to University, winning terrific accolades in some of California’s fastest swimming pools and otherwise in every way, making us all very grateful for our health and good fortune. We take this opportunity to extend our very best wishes to you and yours for the coming year. May it be a calm, respectful, joyful and peaceful year, and mercifully free of fake news and polls.