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Chiara String Quartet Announces Farewell Concert Season 2017-2018
Source: Christina Jensen

The Chiara String Quartet (Rebecca Fischer and Hyeyung Julie Yoon, violins; Jonah Sirota, viola; Gregory Beaver, cello) announced today that 2017-2018 will be its final concert season. The group will end full-time work performing together in September 2018, and characterizes its decision as made, “in a spirit of gratitude and love.”

“This was and is a decision that we came to mutually and with tremendous care and love, for each other and for our music-making,” the Chiara states. “After recognizing that our individual creative spheres needed to expand beyond our quartet, we are excited to send our energies into a wider space in the next phase of our lives.”

The Chiara has been playing string quartets and asking probing questions since 2000. Always interested in engaging with the music at its core as well as reaching audiences, the Chiara has dedicated itself to finding ways to make the musical experience meaningful for all involved. Together, the quartet members pioneered ways to engage audiences in the 21st Century, including their Chamber Music in Any Chamber performances in bars and clubs (which led to a resurgence in alternate-venue chamber music performance), and their commitment to performing from memory, or by heart. The Chiara String Quartet recorded the complete quartets of Bartók and Brahms for Azica Records, recorded String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3 by Jefferson Friedman for New Amsterdam Records (which earned the composer a Grammy nomination), and recorded works by Robert Sirota and Gabriela Lena Frank for their own label, New Voice Singles. The group held residencies at diverse institutions, including Harvard University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where they have served as faculty and Hixson-Lied Artists-in-Residence for 13 years. Highlights of their performance career include cycles of the complete quartets of Bartók, performed from memory at the Ravinia Festival and at National Sawdust in Brooklyn; Beethoven cycles at Harvard and at the University of Nebraska; and tours to Sweden, South Korea, and China.

The Chiara’s farewell season features the premiere performances of a new piano quintet by Philip Glass with pianist Paul Barnes at the Lied Center for the Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska on April 17, 2018 and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, New York on May 12, 2018, and includes performances across the country in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia, and in Ontario, Canada. The Chiara will continue its concert series at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where they are Hixson-Lied Artists-in-Residence, through the 2017-2018 academic year.  For the Chiara’s complete 2017-2018 season, visit:

Although the members of the group are each planning solo performance and teaching careers moving forward, the group plans to reunite regularly for special projects and performance opportunities. Members of the quartet will continue as faculty at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through the 2018-2019 academic year. Future plans of the Chiara members include:

Violinist Rebecca Fischer will continue her multidisciplinary collaboration with visual artist Anthony Hawley, The Afield, combining new and original compositions for violin, voice, and electronics with video and other media. The Afield has commissioned works by composers including Nico Muhly, Paola Prestini, Lisa Bielawa, Augusta Read Thomas, and others, and has premiered work at National Sawdust in New York, the HIFA Festival of the Arts in Zimbabwe, and Bay Chamber Concerts in Maine. The pair have plans to found The Afield School, an organization pioneering interdisciplinary art-making and performance. The school will have a central hub as well as mobile, pop-up locations around the world. In addition, Fischer looks forward to growing her mentorship of violinists and chamber musicians in her home community and abroad.

Violinist Hyeyung Yoon, who immigrated to the U.S. from South Korea when she was seven years old, will pursue creating classical music performances that explore the Korean concept of madang. Madang translates as the name of the courtyard of a traditional Korean house, but can also mean an open space, usually outdoors, where varied activities such as performances, public meetings, and festivals take place. A deeper and more nuanced meaning of the term is a time and space where boundaries that exist between different groups of people are obscured. Yoon plans to travel to South Korea for several months to immerse herself in the ways that a variety of madangs, spatial or temporal, are created by Korean traditional art performers and performance presenters in small villages and city venues.

Violist Jonah Sirota is also a composer and plans to expand his solo career by performing works written for him and by him, and collaborating with a diverse group of artists across multiple media. His upcoming album STRONG SAD, a reimagining of the role of elegy for the viola, is scheduled for release in late spring 2018, and will feature new works by Nico Muhly, Paola Prestini, Valgeir Siggur∂son, and others, along with Sirota himself. He is also scoring documentaries for public television and other visual media. Equally adept at classical performance, improvisation, composition, and digital music production, Sirota is committed to shaping new definitions for performance in a rapidly changing musical landscape, and to teaching a new generation of multi-talented musicians.

Cellist Gregory Beaver will pursue a longtime calling as a teacher of cello and chamber music, blending the art of performing with the art of improvement itself. From the beginning of his work as a performer, Beaver has been fascinated with the process of growing. Whether trying to master a string quartet deeply, learning a new technique rapidly, or developing a student cellist into a dynamic artist, he takes delight in the act of self-actualization. With 80% of his former students pursuing successful careers in music, he has a proven track record helping students directly realize their dreams. In the future, he will work to develop great cellists who are advocates for both the instrument and for the importance of classical music itself in a changing world. He is currently working on composing a set of etudes that fill gaps in the cello canon, and plans to record J.S. Bach’s Six Solo Cello Suites.

The Chiara Quartet is eternally grateful to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for 13 years of full-time residency support, to Christina Jensen and Jensen Artists for 14 years, and to both Astral Artistic Services and Chamber Music America for giving the group its start. The Chiara would also like to thank the many donors and supporters who have generously helped launch its albums and commissions over the past 18 years.

About the Chiara String Quartet:

Renowned for bringing fresh excitement to traditional string quartet repertoire as well as for creating insightful interpretations of new music, the Chiara String Quartet captivates its audiences throughout the country. The Chiara’s "highly virtuosic, edge-of-the-seat playing" (The Boston Globe) has established the quartet as among America’s most respected ensembles. They are currently Hixson-Lied Artists-in-Residence at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and were the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University from 2008-2014. For the 2015-2016 season, the Chiara was the quartet-in-residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Chiara’s latest recording is Bartók by Heart, a 2-CD set featuring Bartók’s six string quartets, played entirely from memory, released in August 2016 on Azica. The quartet’s previous album, Brahms by Heart, was released on Azica in March 2014. The 2-CD set includes Brahms’ String Quartets and his String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111 with violist Roger Tapping. The album, played “with infectious charm, exultant phrasing and nostalgic affection” (The Strad), was recorded by Grammy Award-winning producer Judith Sherman at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, New York. Strings raved, “The recording contributes to the feeling of being inside the music, indivisible from the beauty of the playing.” The Chiara discography also includes Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3 on New Amsterdam Records, the Mozart and Brahms clarinet quintets with Håkan Rosengren for SMS Classical, and the world premiere recordings of Robert Sirota's Triptych and Gabriela Lena Frank's Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout on the Quartet's own New Voice Singles label. The Chiara is also featured on Nadia Sirota's debut recording for New Amsterdam Records, first things first.

The Chiara's honors include the nomination of its recording of Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartet No. 3 for a Grammy Award in 2011 and the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming for the 2010-2011 season. Past awards include a top prize at the Paolo Borciani International Competition, winning the Astral Artistic Services National Audition, and winning First Prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. Awarded the Guarneri Quartet Residency Award for artistic excellence by Chamber Music America, the Chiara Quartet has also been the recipient of grants from Meet The Composer, The Aaron Copland Foundation, and the Amphion Foundation.

In addition to the Chiara Quartet’s regular performances in major concert halls across the country, including Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Gallery in Washington DC, the ensemble was one of the first string quartets to perform in alternative venues for chamber music performance. The Chiara Quartet has performed innovative concerts in non-classical spaces including (le) Poisson Rouge and Galapagos Art Space in New York, The Tractor Tavern in Seattle, Avant Garden in Houston, and the Hideout in Chicago, among many others. Recent highlights of the Chiara Quartet's international performances include extensive tours of China, Korea, and Sweden as well as performances at the American Academy in Rome, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, and of Steve Reich's Different Trains in Munich.

The Chiara Quartet is widely sought out for its innovative work in engagement with urban and rural communities of all ages. In 2012 the Chiara appeared with the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan as residents in the community, performing in unusual venues including a vacant storefront and a Toyota factory. In 2011, the Chiara was the first judge of the online string quartet competition “The Quartet Project Challenge,” an opportunity for young quartets from around the world to post performances on YouTube and receive comments from a professional quartet. In the 2011-12 season, the Chiara presented a concert series at Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach, a unique organization serving the working poor and homeless in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Chiara has been committed to the creation of new music for string quartet since its inception, and has commissioned composers including Gabriela Lena Frank, Jefferson Friedman, Nico Muhly, Daniel Ott, Huang Ruo, Robert Sirota, Hans Tutschku, Carl Voss, and Michael Wittgraf, among others. Recent collaborators in performance include The Juilliard and St. Lawrence String Quartets, Joel Krosnick, Roger Tapping, Todd Palmer, Robert Levin, Simone Dinnerstein, Norman Fischer, Nadia Sirota, and Paul Katz, as well as members of the Orion, Ying, Cavani, and Pacifica Quartets.

In the summer, the Chiara Quartet is in residence at Greenwood Music Camp as well as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Chamber Music Institute. The Chiara trained and taught at The Juilliard School, mentoring for two years with the Juilliard Quartet, as recipients of the Lisa Arnhold Quartet Residency.


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