Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily M. Darrow

Concert features the world premiere performance of Jonathan Berger’s "Doubles," commissioned by the HVCMC

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—A performance by the world-renowned St. Lawrence String Quartet highlights the second concert of this season’s Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle (HVCMC) series at Bard. The quartet will perform Ravel’s String Quartet; Beethoven’s String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127; and the world premiere of Jonathan Berger’s string quartet "Doubles." The program will begin at 8:00 p.m. in Olin Hall.

"Jonathan Berger’s piece is the first work commissioned from an American composer by the HVCMC," says Lawrence Osgood, president of the board of the HVCMC. "We are honored to be adding this work to the repertory of contemporary chamber music." Composer Berger adds, "‘Doubles’ recalls songs of peace, freedom, and resistance that were influential in my youth. The title refers to the 17th-century practice of pairing a short piece with a highly embellished version of itself."

Since the founding of the St. Lawrence String Quartet 14 years ago, violinists Geoff Nuttall and Barry Shiffman, violist Lesley Robertson, and cellist Christopher Costanza have performed over 1,500 times. In 1992, they won both the Banff International String Quartet Competition and Young Concert Artists’ Auditions, launching them on a performing career that has taken them around the world. They are the resident quartet at the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, and, since 1998, ensemble in residence at Stanford University.

Writing about the quartet, Alex Ross of the New Yorker said, "The St. Lawrence are remarkable not simply for the quality of their music making, exalted as it is, but for the joy they take in the act of connection." The Washington Post wrote: "These are fearless musicians whose spontaneity stretches past conventional interpretation and probes the music’s imaginative limits."

The premiere of "Doubles" marks Jonathan Berger's fifth collaboration with the St. Lawrence String Quartet. The group commissioned his earlier quartet, "Miracles and Mud," and has performed the work over 60 times. Berger’s, "Eli Eli" was included in quartet’s tour with the Pilobolus dance company. His arrangement of "Deep River" marked the quartet’s memorial for the victims of 9/11 in their first performance after the tragedy. Berger’s commission for music for the dedication of the Clark Center at Stanford University marked the quartet’s first interaction with electronic music. He has composed works for symphony, three concerti, all varieties of chamber ensemble, vocal, choral, and electroacoustic groups. Among his awards and commissions are three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, prizes from ASCAP, commissions from WDR, and prizes from the Bourges Festival. His compositions are available on the Sony, Neuma, CRI, and Harmonia Mundi labels. Berger’s works for string quartet are currently being recorded by the St Lawrence String Quartet.

The final concert of the 2004 HVCMC series, on Saturday, June 26, features the Juilliard String Quartet with violinist and violist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson, and violinists Joan Kwuon and Hiroko Yajima. The program will feature Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, and Mozart’s String Quintet in C Major with two violas.

The Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle, celebrating its 54th season this year, was founded by Helen Huntington Hull and two friends from Staatsburg, New York. They enlisted the help of violinist Emil Hauser, then a member of the Bard College faculty and original first violinist of the Budapest Quartet, to invite performing artists for concerts at the Mills and Vanderbilt Mansions. In 1979 the concert series began its association with Bard College. The HVCMC remains an association of chamber music lovers and a venue that attracts many of the world's preeminent chamber music artists. In 2001, violinist Jamie Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson assumed artistic directorship of the chamber music series.

These performances are made possible, in part, through the generosity of the Homeland Foundation and the Leon Levy Endowment. Individual tickets, $25; senior citizens, $18; and students, $5. For further information, call 518-537-6665.

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This event was last updated on 05-27-2004