Internationally distinguished string quartets to perform and teach in the School of Music

Nov. 13, 2002

AUSTIN, Texas—Four internationally distinguished, professional string quartets will be invited to the university this fall to interview, perform, teach and conduct master classes with students at the School of Music.

Following auditions, one group will take up permanent residence next fall, a major boost for the school's string program and a bonus for Austin music lovers. Selection of the string quartet is expected by next March.

"Across the country, the classical music world is buzzing about this search even before a group has been selected," said selection committee chair Brian Lewis. "The recruitment of a world-class string quartet and the provision of adequate financial resources to support their work is big news in classical music and music education. We're beginning our search in earnest, and we have already received applications from several exceptional groups."

With a lead gift of $3 million from Joe and Teresa Long and additional major gifts from Jeff and Gail Kodosky, and James Armstrong, the College of Fine Arts has raised $4.1 million towards the $6 million endowment that will support the string quartet program.

Having a renowned string quartet as part of the faculty will help draw the best string students from around the world. This will increase the number and quality of string students at the university and improve the artistic level of many of the school's programs.

"The string program is the basis of any university's chamber music, orchestral and operatic programs, and it is vital to the advancement of our school," said Dr. Glenn Chandler, director of the School of Music.

Members of the resident string quartet will teach violin, viola and cello students individually and coach chamber music ensembles. They will also perform locally, statewide, nationally and internationally, representing the university, and acting as artistic ambassadors of the highest level.

"The string quartet program will improve our artistic standards,” said Robert Freeman, dean of the College of Fine Arts, “and will create a deeper and richer pool of string players for the professional orchestras of Austin and the State of Texas, as well as in the music programs of public schools and other universities around the state."

The name of the resident string quartet will reflect its relationship to the university and to Texas, providing the first occasion where a touring string quartet of the first rank represents the State of Texas in major cities around the world, Freeman said.

Freeman said selection of the string quartet is of particular importance because "there is a shortage of string players and string teachers at a local, national and international level."

Chandler noted that, "in America's top universities, recruitment of string players has always been an unusually competitive matter, often approaching that for top athletes. The repertory for string quartet, the focus of primary interest for fine young string students, is one of the richest in the history of western music, and a continuing delight for audiences."

The university's commitment to creating a string quartet program is part of a series of hires to position the School of Music as one of the leading musical institutions in the nation. This year, the school hired two new string faculty members, Lewis, a violinist, and cellist Bion Tsang, both artists with exceptional musical and teaching abilities, and fully established international concert careers. Lewis is an accomplished chamber musician and has been named Fellow to the David and Mary Winton Green Chair in Violin Performance and Pedagogy.

For more information contact: Bruno Longarini, College of Fine Arts, 512-475-7021.