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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

Archive of past events: 2004 through 2014

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Gualala Arts Chamber Music Series presents:
The Alexander String Quartet

Sunday, May 21 at 4:00 p.m.
at the Gualala Arts Center

The Alexander String Quartet
The Alexander String Quartet
Zakarias Grafilo, violin
Frederick Lifsitz, violin
Paul Yarbrough, viola
Sandy Wilson, cello
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2006, The Alexander String Quartet has performed in the major music capitals of four continents, securing its standing among the world's premier ensembles. 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. In 1999 BMG Classics released the Quartet's nine-CD set of the Beethoven cycle on its Arte Nova label to tremendous critical acclaim. The Foghom Classics label released a three-CD set of Mozart quartets in 2004 and a set of the Shostakovich cycle will follow in 2006.

The Alexander's annual calendar of concerts includes engagements at major halls throughout North America and Europe. The Quartet has appeared at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, 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 the North American continent. Recent overseas tours have brought them to the U.K., the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Greece, the Republic of Georgia, and the Philippines. The many distinguished artists to collaborate with the Alexander String Quartet include pianists Menahem Pressler, Gary Graffman, Jeremy Menuhin, and James Tocco; guitarist Manuel Barrueco; clarinetists Eli Eban, Charles Neidich, Joan Enric Lluna, and Richard Stoltzman; cellist Sadao Harada; soprano Elly Ameling; and saxophonists Branford Marsalis and David Sanchez.

Among the quartet's projects in the 2005-2006 season is an April 2006 performance of the Shostakovich cycle in New York City presented by Baruch College. The quartet will also commence a two-season Beethoven cycle for San Francisco Performances, as well as a series of Brahms concerts presented by that organization in Berkeley. Mondavi Center will present the first of two seasons of programs built around Mozart's "Haydn" quartets, while the University of California at Riverside will continue its six-year Beethoven cycle. The quartet will collaborate with Robert Kapilow in the "What Makes It Great" series presented by Great Performers at Lincoln Center, and will participate in a Shostakovich festival presented by the State Theatre New Brunswick and Rutgers University. Other performances include recitals presented by Purdue Convocations, Bryn Mawr College, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, and a tour of Hawaii, as well as continuing residencies at Baruch College, Allegheny College, and St. Lawrence University. The quartet continues its collaboration with jazz saxophonist David Sanchez in performance of Eddie Sauter's "Focus," a 1960 composition written for Stan Getz, most recently in a July 2005 performance at the Spectrum for the Montreal Jazz Festival; a European tour is planned for October 2006.

Highlighting the 2001-2002 season was a Beethoven cycle for the University of Illinois Krannert Center, recitals at the Lichtenstein Palace in Prague and Wigmore Hall in London, and the inaugural performance at the Engelman Recital Hall at Baruch College at which they collaborated with saxophonist Branford Marsalis. The Quartet also performed a series of Beethoven concerts for the Slee Endowment Series at the University at Buffalo and made its first tour of Alaska. The 2002-2003 season included the inauguration of a three-year Shostakovich cycle at the new Mondavi Center at the University of California at Davis and a series of performances for the Niedersachsische Musiktage in Lower Saxony in Germany. The 2003-2004 season saw return engagements at the Krannert Center, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Library of Congress, and collaborations with clarinetist David Krakauer for the Sun Cities Chamber Music Society and violist Toby Appel for the Chamber Music Society of Utica. The 2004-2005 season included a four-concert series of Brahms' chamber music for San Francisco Performances and collaborations with such distinguished artists as pianist Jeremy Menuhin and clarinetist Eli Eban, and a series of performances for the Vigo Festival in Spain.

Among the Quartet's recent premieres are "Rise Chanting" by Augusta Read Thomas, commissioned for the Alexander by the Krannert Center and premiered there and simulcast by WFMT radio in Chicago. The Quartet has also premiered String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3 by Pulitzer Prize-winner Wayne Peterson and works by Ross Bauer (commissioned by Stanford University), Richard Festinger, David Sheinfeld, Hi Kyung Kirn, and a Koussevitzky commission by Robert Greenberg.

At home in San Francisco, the members of the Alexander String Quartet are a major artistic presence, serving as Ensemble in Residence of San Francisco Performances and as directors of the Morrison Chamber Music Center at the School of Music and Dance in the College of Creative Arts at San Francisco State University. 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 and only 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. Honorary degrees were conferred on the ensemble by St. Lawrence University in May 2000.

Tickets for the concert are $20. Children ages 7 through 17 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Advance tickets are available at the Gualala Arts Center or at the Dolphin Gallery in Gualala. Tickets may also be purchased at the door prior to the performance. For further information, call the Gualala Arts Center at (707) 884-1138, or visit the website Those unable to furnish their own transportation may call the Arts Center to request rides to the concert.