CANTON - St. Lawrence University once again will host the San Francisco-based Alexander String Quartet for a three-day residency beginning Tuesday, which will include two free concerts.
The Quartet – which consists of Zakarias Grafilo, violin, Frederick Lifsitz, violin, Paul Yarbrough, viola, and Sandy Wilson, cello – will visit a number of classes on campus, including First-Year Programs, arts, literature, and printmaking courses.
The Alexander String Quartet will also perform two free concerts open to the general public.
The first free performance will be a full formal concert at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Gulick Theatre. The concert program will include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts String Quartet No. 21 in D Major, K.575, String Quartet No. 2 in C, Op. 36 by Benjamin Britten, and String Quartet in F Major by Maurice Ravel.
The ensemble will perform a second, more informal free concert at noon Friday in the Peterson-Kermani Performance Hall in the Griffiths Arts Center. The musicians at this performance will provide commentary about works they perform and the lives of composers.
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 jurys highest award and the Audience Prize. In May 2000, St. Lawrence conferred honorary degrees on the ensemble.
The Alexander String Quartet has performed in the major music capitals of five continents, securing its standing among the worlds premier ensembles over nearly 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 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 Arts and Humanities at San Francisco State University and Ensemble in Residence of San Francisco Performances.
The Alexander String Quartet is one of those estimable groups who treat both composers and audiences with uncommon respect, claimed a San Francisco Examiner review. What commanded attention was the Alexanders complete absorption in the piece at hand. You never got the feeling that these were mere score readings, but part of the organizations living repertoire.
The Alexander String Quartets 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, D.C., and at chamber music societies and universities across North America.
A particular highlight of the last season was a celebratory concert in February 2012, marking the Quartets 30th anniversary. For the occasion, San Francisco Performances commissioned a new work by Jake Heggie, Camille Claudel: Into the Fire, a work for string Quartet and mezzo-soprano; the Alexander was joined in the world premiere by Joyce DiDonato.