Acclaimed U.K.-Based Quartet Will Focus on the Music of Beethoven
***Weather Update: Due to Winter Storm Vulcan’s effects on travel throughout the northeast, the Elias String Quartet’s lecture-demonstration, planned for Wednesday, March 12 at 4:30 P.M., was canceled. However, the Quartet’s formal concert on Thursday, March 13 at 7:30 P.M. will go on as scheduled at the Concert Hall of the Mahaney Center for the Arts.
Middlebury, VT—Middlebury College’s Performing Arts Series will present two free appearances by the acclaimed Elias String Quartet on March 12 and 13 at the Mahaney Center for the Arts. First, the quartet will give a lecture/demonstration about their ambitious Beethoven Project on Wednesday, March 12 at 4:30 P.M. The next evening, the quartet will give a formal concert including Beethoven’s Quartet no. 4 in C minor, Beethoven’s second “Razumovsky” quartet, and Kurtag’s Officium breve in memoriam Andreae Szervánszky. The quartet has experienced a meteoric rise in the chamber music universe due to “imaginative, full-blooded playing” (Classic FM Magazine), and “sophisticated phrasing, subtle coloring, and impeccable tuning…” (The Independent).
Comprised of members Sara Bitlloch and Donald Grant on violin, violist Martin Saving, and cellist Marie Bitlloch, the Elias String Quartet takes its name from Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah, or Elias in its German form. The quartet was formed in 1998 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. Among their many prestigious mentors are the late Dr. Christopher Rowland, the Alban Berg quartet, Hugh Maguire, György Kurtág, Gábor Takács-Nagy (a Takács Quartet founder), Henri Dutilleux, and Rainer Schmidt. The quartet quickly established itself as one of the most intense and vibrant quartets of its generation, and has accumulated accolades at every turn. They were chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3’s prestigious New Generation Artists’ scheme. With the support of a 2010 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, the quartet embarked on the Beethoven Project, endeavoring to learn and perform all the Beethoven string quartets, while documenting the journey on the dedicated website www.thebeethovenproject.com.
The quartet made its North American debut in Middlebury in March 2012, to great critical acclaim. On that tour, they gave a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, and earned praise from the Washington Post for “shimmering beauty.” The Philadelphia Inquirer proclaimed, “Few quartets at any stage of their evolution have this much personality.”
The quartet’s two public events at Middlebury are being made possible by generous partnerships in support of the arts. The March 12 lecture/demonstration about the Beethoven Project is sponsored by the Rothrock Family Fund for Experiential Learning in the Performing Arts, established in 2011. The March 13 concert is part of a ten-year collaboration between the Performing Arts Series and the Institute for Clinical Science and Art, through which the Institute funds one or two high-profile string quartet concerts to be presented free of charge each year. This gift to the Middlebury community is made in memory of F. William Sunderman Jr. and Carolyn Reynolds Sunderman.
The Elias String Quartet’s lecture/demonstration will take place at 4:30 P.M. on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, and their public concert will follow the next evening, at 7:30 P.M. on Thursday, March 13, 2014. Both events will be held in the Concert Hall of the Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts, on the Middlebury College campus. Both events are free; no tickets are required. Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Mahaney Center for the Arts is located at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south. Free parking is available. For more information, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to http://go.middlebury.edu/arts.
Top left, top center, and second photos by Benjamin Ealovega; bottom photo by Aaron Kimball