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Ying Quartet residency to include concert, string festival

February 22, 2010

Ying Quartet residency to include concert, string festival

Ying Quartet
Ying Quartet in concert

The Grammy Award-winning Ying Quartet will give its Skidmore College debut performance at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Zankel Music Center's Ladd Concert Hall.

Invited as Sterne Virtuoso Artists, the quartet will be in residence at the College for its sixth annual String Festival (more information below). Quartet members will coach Skidmore student ensembles and student quartets from several high schools, and present a class on rehearsal techniques.

A highlight of the three-day festival will be the Ying Quartet's Saturday performance, which will include Hayden's Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 33, No. 4; Jan ček's Quartet No. 2, "Intimate Letters;" and Mendelssohn's Quartet in F minor, Op. 80.

Now in its second decade, the Ying Quartet has established itself as an ensemble of the highest musical qualifications in its tours across the United States and abroad. The quartet's belief that concert music can also be a meaningful part of everyday life has also drawn the foursome to perform in settings as diverse as the workplace, schools, juvenile prisons, and the White House.

Beginning with the 2009-2010 season, violinist Frank Huang joined the quartet as first violin. He fills the chair of Timothy Ying, the original first violin of the all-sibling quartet; Timothy and his siblings, cellist David, violist Phillip, and violinist Janet, are the ensemble's founding members. Since winning the 2003 Naumburg Violin Competition and the 2000 Hannover International Violin Competition, Huang has been in demand as a recital and orchestral soloist and as a chamber musician.

The Ying Quartet's recordings reflect many of the group's wide-ranging musical interests and have generated consistent, enthusiastic acclaim. Their 2007 Telarc release of the three Tchaikovsky Quartets and the Souvenir de Florence (with James Dunham and Paul Katz) was nominated for a Grammy Award in the "Best Chamber Music Performance" category. In addition, their much-heralded collaboration with the Turtle Island Quartet, "Four + 4," explored the common ground between the classic string quartet tradition and jazz and other American vernacular styles, and won a Grammy Award in 2005. "Dim Sum" (Telarc) is the Ying's most recent recording, featuring music by Chinese-American composers that merges the Western string quartet with the aural world of traditional Chinese music.

The Quartet has also documented its noteworthy LifeMusic commissioning project in its recorded work. Released by Quartz, The Ying Quartet play LifeMusic was named "Editor's Choice" by Gramophone magazine and is the first in a continuing series.

In addition to appearing in conventional concert situations, the Ying Quartet is also known for its diverse and unusual performance projects. For several years the quartet presented a series called "No Boundaries" at Symphony Space in New York City that sought to re-imagine the concert experience. Collaborations with actors, dancers, electronics, a host of non-classical musicians, a magician and even a Chinese noodle chef gave new and thoughtful context to a wide variety of both traditional and contemporary string quartet music.

The Ying Quartet first came to professional prominence in the early 1990s during their years as resident quartet of Jesup, Iowa, a farm town of 2,000 people. Playing before audiences of six to 600 in homes, schools, churches, and banks, the quartet had its first opportunities to enable music and creative endeavor to become an integral part of community life. Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the residency was widely chronicled in the national media. Toward the end of the residency, the quartet and several of the townspeople were invited to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress on behalf of the NEA.

As quartet-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music, the Ying Quartet teaches in the string department and leads a rigorous, sequentially designed chamber-music program. From 2001 to 2008, the Ying Quartet held the title of Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University.

General admission to the Skidmore concert is $12, or $10 for seniors and Skidmore faculty/staff; $3 for students. Tickets may be purchased online.

High school string instrumentalists to join Ying Quartet at String Festival

Area high school string instrument players and their music teachers will perform with the internationally renowned Ying Quartet, music faculty from Skidmore College, and student participants in the College's sixth annual String Music Festival in late February.

Skidmore Artist-in-Residence Michael Emery reported that the string players from Shenendehowa, Saratoga, Guilderland, and Niskayuna high schools will attend a free master class to be presented by the Ying Quartet at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, in the College's new Zankel Music Center.

During the master class, the Ying musicians will hear performances by several string quartets they will have coached the previous day. Those ensembles will consist of Skidmore students and pre-formed high school string quartets from Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Poughkeepsie, and the Saratoga region.

String players for the local quartet are: Lily Holgate, violin, and David Burns, cello, from Saratoga Springs High School; and Terry Spinelli, violin, and Zachary Evans, viola, from Niskayuna High School. They will perform the first movement from Beethoven's String Quartet No. 4, Op. 18.

At the close of the event, the young musicians from the audience will be invited to join festival participants in a group performance of the finale from Mendelssohn's Octet.

In addition, students wil attend a workshop on rehearsal techniques at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, also presented by the Ying Quartet, which will be in residence as Sterne Virtuoso Artists at the College for the three-day festival.

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