The Alexander String Quartet will perform a free concert at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, in Ford Chapel at Allegheny College.
The ASQ will play Mozart’s String Quartet No. 23 in F major, K. 590, Benjamin Britten’s Three Divertimenti for String Quartet and Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D. 810 “Death and the Maiden.”
Members of the quartet are violinists Zakarias Grafilo and Frederick Lifsitz, violist Paul Yarbrough and cellist Sandy Wilson.
The ASQ has performed in major music capitals on five continents, securing its standing among the world’s premier ensembles over three decades. Widely admired for its interpretations of Beethoven, Mozart, and Shostakovich, the quartet has also established itself as an important advocate of new music through over 25 commissions and numerous premiere performances.
The New York Times describes the quartet as “an unusually fine group –musically, technically, in just about any way one wants to view it.” The Boston Globe hails their “dream-come-true performances.”
Interdisciplinary residencies for institutions of higher learning and their communities have earned the ensemble international renown for contributions to education and audience development. During its annual residency at Allegheny, the quartet will visit classes across the academic disciplines, including classes not only in music but also in psychology, communication arts, English, biology and philosophy.
The Alexander String Quartet is a major artistic presence in its home base of San Francisco, serving there as directors of the Morrison Chamber Music Center at the School of Music and Dance in the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University and Ensemble in Residence of San Francisco Performances.
In 1999, to tremendous critical acclaim, BMG Classics released the quartet’s nine-CD set of the Beethoven cycle on its Arte Nova label. The Foghorn Classics label released a three-CD set of the Mozart quartets dedicated to Haydn in 2004. Foghorn released a six-CD set of the complete Shostakovich quartets in 2006 and 2007, and a recording of the complete quartets of Pulitzer prize-winning composer Wayne Peterson was released in the spring of 2008. In addition, a new recording of the ASQ’s performance of the Beethoven cycle was released in June 2009.
The quartet’s newest releases on Foghorn Classics include works by Brahms, Gershwin, Kern and Beethoven, as well as new commissions from Paul Chihara, Veronika Krausas and Michael Gandolfi.
The quartet’s annual calendar of concerts includes engagements at major halls throughout North America and Europe. They have appeared at Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, Jordan Hall in Boston, the Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, and chamber music societies and universities across North America.
The Alexander String Quartet was formed in New York City in 1981 and the following year became the first string quartet to win the Concert Artists Guild Competition. In 1985, the quartet captured international attention as the first American quartet to win the London International String Quartet Competition, receiving both the jury’s highest award and the Audience Prize.
In May of 1995, Allegheny College awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees to the members of the quartet in recognition of their unique contribution to the arts.