Going Places with the Shanghai Quartet

On Friday, the music of Mozart, Debussy and Penderecki will fill Crowell Concert Hall performed by the Shanghai Quartet, one of the most virtuosic quartets touring today.  (You may remember seeing them on the cover of our spring brochure in their jazzy red sports car.) Our classical music audiences have been waiting all year for this concert, and I know they won’t be disappointed. Known for their passionate musicality and impressive technique, the group was founded over twenty-five years ago at the Shanghai Conservatory, and today features violinists Weigang Li and Yi-Wen Jiang, violist Honggang Li, and cellist Nicholas Tzavaras.  At Wesleyan, the quartet will be performing Debussy’s String Quartet, Mozart’s Quartet in D Minor and Penderecki’s Quartet No. 3 (a work they commissioned.)

Under the group’s logo on their website, the tagline reads “Going Places” and they do.  For the past 27 years, the group has been touring, teaching, and innovating in the field of classical music all over the world. In addition to regularly touring the North American continent, they have toured in such places as Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and several countries in Europe. They regularly perform at Carnegie Hall and last season were featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  They are also committed educators having taught for thirteen years at the University of Richmond, and now serve as the quartet-in-residence at Montclair State University in New Jersey, where they perform, coach chamber music and teach individual lessons. They are also guest professors at the Shanghai Conservatory in China and have served as Graduate Ensemble-in-Residence at the Juilliard School.

In terms of music education, an interesting note about cellist Nicholas Tzavaras:  His mother is Roberta Guaspari, the public school violin teacher in East Harlem whose story was retold in the 1999 movie Music of the Heart, starring Meryl Streep.

The Shanghai Quartet has not only ventured far and wide geographically, but also in terms of the direction and scope of their music. In its fusion of “the delicacy of Eastern music with the emotional breadth of Western repertoire,” the group transcends the boundaries of genre. A peek at their extensive discography reveals that their repertoire ranges from Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Bach to Chinese folk songs and classical interpretations of Disney favorites. They also commission contemporary works, including their 2008-2009 commission of Krzysztof Penderecki’s String Quartet No. 3, which appears on Friday’s program.

Come early and have the rare opportunity to hear our renowned Professor of Music Alvin Lucier discuss the works to be performed.

Shanghai Quartet

Performing works by Debussy, Mozart and Penderecki

Friday, February 19, 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
Pre-concert talk by Alvin Lucier, Professor of Music, at 7:15pm