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KU School of Music’s 2012-13 Concert Series kicks off with performance by renowned Borromeo String Quartet

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Borromeo String Quartet, one of the most sought after string quartets in the world, will perform at the at the Carlsen Center for the Performing Arts Polsky Theatre in Overland Park, Kansas, on Sunday, September 30, 2012, at 7:00pm. This Concert Series is sponsored by Reach Out Kansas, Inc. and The Law Offices of Smithyman & Zakoura Chartered.

This event will feature performances of Béla Bartók’s “Bartók Quartet No. 1,” Brahms’ “Sextet in B-flat Major, Opus 18” and the world premiere of “The Named Angels,” a work commissioned by Reach Out Kansas, Inc. for the Borromeo String Quartet, and composed by Mohammed Fairouz. The Brahms Sextet will feature the Borromeo String Quartet, joined in performance by KU faculty members Chung-Hoon Peter Chun on viola and Edward Laut on cello. An artist reception will follow the concert in the atrium of the Carlsen Center.

This concert is free, but ticket reservations are required. Contact the Carlsen Center Box Office at 913-469-4445 for information.

Since their explosive debut in 1989, the critically acclaimed Borromeo String Quartet has performed over 100 concerts of classical and contemporary music across three continents every season. As one of today's most adventurous quartets, they continue to push musical, intellectual, and technical boundaries to a level achieved by only a few.

The Borromeo have been redefining the classical music landscape through innovative uses of Macbook Pro laptops, video projection, and iPads in performance. They use on-stage projections of hand drawn original manuscripts by composers like Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mozart, and Schubert to vividly illustrate the creative process hard at work, a practice which has excited audiences of all ages. In schools their use of technology is proving to make classical music now very relevant to students who have grown up in the digital age. The Borromeo makes their own videos and live concert recordings while on tour, and in 2003 started an on-demand recording project, the Living Archive, which made it possible for listeners to experience many of the quartet's concerts around the world.

The Borromeo collaborates extensively with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Library of Congress, and can be heard throughout the year on National Public Radio and Public Radio International. It was the ensemble-in-residence for NPR's Performance Today in 1998 and 1999, and its longstanding residency at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has been called "one of the defining experiences of civilization in Boston" by the Boston Globe]. The group performs an ongoing series at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York City as well.

The Borromeo Quartet has collaborated with artists including Angélique Kidjo and Branford Marsalis; violinist Midori; pianists Christoph Eschenbach, Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman, Menahem Pressler, and Peter Serkin; sopranos Dawn Upshaw and Audra McDonald; clarinetists Richard Stoltzman and David Shifrin; and cellist Bernard Greenhouse, as well as members of the Brentano, Guarneri, Juilliard, and Cleveland string quartets.

As quartet-in-residence at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music for twenty years, the Borromeo have opened the "doors of perception" to a generation of young musicians who are now themselves being heard by audiences around the world. Their informal public master class series held at NEC, called "Early Evenings with the Borromeo," regularly attracts standing-room-only crowds. The ensemble returns to the Taos School of Music in New Mexico this summer for its eighth season of mentoring outstanding young musicians.

The Borromeo String Quartet has been heard in the most illustrious concert halls, including Tokyo's Casals Hall, Daiichi Seimei Hall, the Concertgebouw, Wigmore Hall, and the Opéra national de Paris-Bastille, as well as the Library of Congress, Alice Tully Hall, Jordan Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Kennedy Center. It has been invited to perform at music festivals around the world, including Spoleto, Orlando in the Netherlands, Music Isle in Korea, and throughout North America at the Rockport, Maverick, Marlboro, La Jolla, Music@Menlo, Ravinia, Vancouver, and Tanglewood music festivals. First violinist Nicholas Kitchen was artistic director of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival for six seasons.

In 2007, the Borromeo String Quartet received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, and since 2006, the Aaron Copland House has honored the quartet's commitment to contemporary music with its Borromeo String Quartet Award, which introduces the work of important young composers to audiences internationally. The Borromeo has enjoyed collaborations with such composers as Gunther Schuller, Lera Auerbach, Steve Mackey, Osvaldo Golijov, Derek Bermel, John Cage, György Ligeti, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Thomas Adès, Robert Maggio, James Matheson, and Mohammed Fairouz.

The quartet recently released a CD of music by Béla Bartók, Gunther Schuller, and Mohammed Fairouz, which features both live and studio versions of Schuller's String Quartet no. 4. Gramophone Magazine hailed the "great clarity and beauty" and "ravishing fury" of the BSQ's studio recording of masterworks by Beethoven, and their CD featuring works of Maurice Ravel was honored with the Chamber Music America/WQXR Award for Recording Excellence in 2001.

The Borromeos were commissioned by the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society in 2005 to conduct a five-month long series of outreach concerts throughout the city focused on the music of Béla Bartók, including Bartók Night, a one act play for solo actor and string quartet by playwright Lynne Conner. In addition, the ensemble serves as an advisor to Community MusicWorks of Providence, Rhode Island, an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of inner city youths and families through classical music.

The Quartet has received many prestigious awards throughout their illustrious 22 year career, including Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Martin E. Segal Award, Chamber Music America's Cleveland Quartet Award, the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and top prize at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France. (Photo credit: Eli Akerstein)

Mohammed Fairouz, born in 1985, is one of the most frequently performed, commissioned, and recorded composers of his generation. Hailed by the New York Times as “an important new artistic voice” and by BBC World News as “one of the most talented composers of his generation,” Fairouz melds Middle-Eastern modes and Western structures to deeply expressive effect. His large-scale works, including four symphonies and an opera, engage major geopolitical and philosophical themes with persuasive craft and a marked seriousness of purpose. His solo and chamber music attains an “intoxicating intimacy,” according to New York’s WQXR.

A truly cosmopolitan voice, Fairouz had a transatlantic upbringing. By his early teens, the Arab-American composer had traveled across five continents, immersing himself in the musical life of his surroundings. Prominent advocates of his instrumental music include the Borromeo and Lydian String Quartets, the Imani Winds, The KnightsChamber Orchestra, Metropolis Ensemble, violinists Rachel Barton Pine and James Buswell, clarinetist David Krakauer, and conductors Gunther Schuller, Fawzi Haimor, and Yoon Jae Lee.

He has been recognized as an “expert in vocal writing” by the New Yorker magazine and as a “post-millennial Schubert” by Gramophone Magazine. Among the eminent singers that have promoted his wealth of vocal music are Kate Lindsey, Sasha Cooke, Lucy Shelton, D’Anna Fortunato, David Kravitz and Randall Scarlata.

Commissions have come from the Borromeo Quartet, Imani Winds, New York Festival of Song, Da Capo Chamber Players, New Juilliard Ensemble, Cantus, Cygnus Ensemble, Counter)induction, Alea III, Musicians for Harmony, and many others. Recordings of his music are available on the Naxos, Bridge, Dorian, Sono Luminus, Cedille, Albany, GM/Living Archive, and GPR labels.

Mohammed Fairouz is the subject of a documentary by BBC World Service TV, has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC/PRI’s The World, and has been profiled in Symphony, Strings, New Music Box, and the Houston Chronicle, among others.

His principal teachers in composition have included György Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, and Richard Danielpour, with studies at the Curtis Institute and New England Conservatory. His works are published by Peermusic Classical. He lives in New York City. (Photo credit: Samantha West)

For more information, contact the KU School of Music for more information at 785-864-3436. MUSIC.KU.EDU.

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