Alexander String Quartet
Meráki String Quartet
Sunday, January 27, 2019 | 11am
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
$15 Children/$25 Adults
BEETHOVEN: Scherzo from Quartet in B-flat Major, Opus 16 No. 6 (1799)
MOZART: Allegretto and Andante from Quartet in D Major, K.575 (1789)
RAVEL: Assez vif, Tres rythme and Vif et agite from Quartet in F (1903)
MENDELSSOHN: Allegro moderato ma con fuoco from Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (1825)
About This Performance
San Francisco Performances’ popular Family Matinees bring some of the world’s top creators and performers into engaging, entertaining and informative exchanges with younger audiences. Usually about an hour in length, Family Matinees typically feature complete performances with an interactive component—sometimes a Q&A with the artists, sometimes with audience participation—designed to give a deeper glimpse behind and inside what’s on stage. Artists are particularly experienced in communicating with young people, inspiring them to learn more about music and dance.
The Alexander String Quartet and the young, Bay Area ensemble Meráki Quartet, will celebrate Mozart’s 263rd birthday in a program of chamber music magic.
Having celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2011, the Alexander String Quartet has performed in the major music capitals of five continents, securing its standing among the world’s premiere ensembles. Widely admired for its interpretations of Beethoven, Mozart, and Shostakovich, the quartet's recordings of the Beethoven cycle (twice), and the Bartók and Shostakovich cycles have all won international critical acclaim. The quartet has also established itself as an important advocate of new music through over 25 commissions from such composers as Jake Heggie, Cindy Cox, Augusta Read Thomas, Robert Greenberg, Martin Bresnick, César Cano, and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Wayne Peterson. A new work by Tarik O'Reagan commissioned for the Alexander by the Boise Chamber Music Series, will have its premiere in 2016.
The Alexander String Quartet is a major artistic presence in its home base of San Francisco, serving since 1989 as Ensemble-in-Residence for San Francisco Performances and Directors of the the Morrison Chamber Music Center in the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University.
The Alexander String Quartet’s annual calendar of concerts includes engagements at major halls throughout North America and Europe. The quartet has appeared at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City; Jordan Hall in Boston; the Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington; and chamber music societies and universities across the North American continent. Recent overseas tours have brought them to the U.K., the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Greece, the Republic of Georgia, Argentina, Panamá, and the Philippines. They returned to Poland for their debut performances at the Beethoven Easter Festival in 2015. Among the fine musicians with whom the Alexander String Quartet has collaborated are pianists Joyce Yang, Roger Woodward, Anne-Marie McDermott, Jon Nakamatsu, Menahem Pressler, and Jeremy Menuhin; clarinetists Joan Enric Lluna, David Shifrin, Richard Stolzman, and Eli Eban; soprano Elly Ameling; mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; cellists Lynn Harrell, Sadao Harada, and David Requiro; violist Toby Appel; and jazz greats, Branford Marsalis, David Sánchez, and Andrew Speight. The quartet has worked with many composers including Aaron Copland, George Crumb, and Elliott Carter and has long enjoyed a close relationship with composer-lecturer Robert Greenberg, performing numerous lecture-concerts with him annually.
The Alexander String Quartet added considerably to its distinguished and wide-ranging discography over the past decade, now recording exclusively for the FoghornClassics label. There were three major releases in the 2013–2014 season: The combined string quartet cycles of Bartók and Kodály, recorded on the renowned Ellen M. Egger Quartet of matched instruments built by San Francisco luthier, Francis Kuttner (“If ever an album had ‘Grammy nominee’ written on its front cover, this is it.” —Audiophile Audition); The String Quintets & Sextets of Brahms with Toby Appel and David Requiro (“a uniquely detailed, transparent warmth” —Strings Magazine); and the Brahms & Schumann Piano Quintets with Joyce Yang (“passionate, soulful readings of two pinnacles of the chamber repertory” —The New York Times). Their recording of music of Gershwin and Kern was released in the summer of 2012, following the Spring 2012 recording of the clarinet quintet of Brahms and a new quintet from César Cano (in Friendship), in collaboration with Joan Enric Lluna, as well as a disc in collaboration with the San Francisco Choral Artists (with Strings Attached). Next to be released will be an album of works by Cindy Cox.
The Alexander's 2009 release of the complete Beethoven Cycle was described by Music Web International as performances “uncompromising in power, intensity and spiritual depth,” while Strings Magazine described the set as “a landmark journey through the greatest of all quartet cycles.” The FoghornClassics label released a three-CD set (Homage) of the Mozart quartets dedicated to Haydn in 2004. FoghornClassics released a six-CD album (Fragments Volume 1 & Volume 2) of the complete Shostakovich quartets in 2006 and 2007, and a recording of the complete quartets of Pulitzer prize-winning San Francisco composer, Wayne Peterson (Retrospections), was released in the Spring of 2008. BMG Classics released the quartet’s first recording of Beethoven cycle on its Arte Nova label to tremendous critical acclaim in 1999.
The Alexander String Quartet was formed in New York City in 1981 and captured international attention as the first American quartet to win the London International String Quartet Competition in 1985. The quartet has received honorary degrees from Allegheny College and St. Lawrence University, and presidential medals from Baruch College (CUNY).
The Meráki String Quartet was formed by four 14-year-old students in the fall of 2016 through the Crowden Music Center’s Youth Chamber Music Program. Four months following its inception, the quartet participated in the Jane Galante Competition at the Yehudi Menuhin Chamber Music Seminar in San Francisco and earned second prize. They have since appeared on NPR’s From the Top with Christopher O’Riley, performed at the Rex Salon and Herbst Theatre with the Alexander String Quartet, opened for the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and played at Berkeley City Hall for Mayor Tom Bates. The Meráki String Quartet is dedicated to supporting young contemporary composers; through their association with Crowden, they have premiered a commissioned piece by Preben Antonsen and have also performed works by Theodore Haber and Matthew Cmiel. The quartet receives regular mentoring from cellists Bonnie Hampton and Eugene Sor. The group derives its name from the Greek “μεράκι,” meaning “soulfully artistic.”