A Night of Quartets

Image of the Avalon String Quartet

Close Encounters With Music continues its 18th season with The Avalon String Quartet (“Engrossed, impassioned and imaginative…” –The New York Times) on Saturday, February 20, 6PM offering A Night of Quartets, a striking program of works by Beethoven, Arensky, and Prokofiev, all mining overlapping Russian folkloric themes. The Opus 59 No. 2 Razumovsky Quartet represents the pinnacle of Beethoven’s quartet writing, revolutionary in character and symphonic in reach. Arensky’s arresting work is for two cellos, and Prokofiev’s Quartet No. 2 bears his infatuation with folk instruments. Yehuda Hanani joins the Quartet in the Arensky at South County’s premier venue, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington.

Hailed as “one of the most exciting young string quartets in America” (The Washington Post), the Avalon String Quartet has established itself as a leading chamber ensemble. Formed in 1995 at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Quartet came to the fore after participating in Isaac Stern’s Chamber Music Workshop at Carnegie Hall in 1997, subsequently appearing in the Stern Chamber Music Encounters in Jerusalem and making a Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall in 2000. The quartet won the Channel Classics Prize and the Rockport Chamber Music Festival Prize at the 1999 Concert Artists Guild Competition, which led to the critically acclaimed recording Dawn To Dusk, and top prize in the ARD Competition in Munich. Following residencies at the Juilliard School and at Indiana University South Bend, the quartet is now in residence at Northern Illinois University, a position formerly occupied by the venerated Vermeer Quartet. They have performed in many major halls, including Alice Tully, the 92nd Street Y, and Carnegie Hall in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington; Wigmore in London; and Herculessaal in Munich; as well as the Caramoor, La Jolla, Ravinia, and Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart festivals. Dedicated educators, they have taught at the Interlochen Quartet Institute and at the Britten-Pears School in England. The Avalon has been featured in live performances and conversation on Chicago’s WFMT-FM, New York’s WQXR-FM and WNYC-FM, National Public Radio’s Performance Today, Canada’s CBC, Australia’s ABC, and France Musique.

Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and reengagements across the globe. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, and Taipei and Seoul symphonies, among others. He has been a guest at Aspen, Chautauqua, Marlboro, Yale at Norfolk, Round Top (TX), Bowdoin, Great Lakes, and Grand Canyon festivals, Finland Festival, Great Wall Festival (China), Leicester (England), Ottawa, Prades (France), Oslo, and Australia Chamber Music festivals, and in New York City has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, and the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rodgers Auditorium. His recording of the monumental Alkan Cello Sonata —the first ever—received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination, and his other discs have won wide recognition. Mr. Hanani has been committed to extending the range of the cello repertoire and to collaborating with performers in many artistic realms, including choreographer David Parsons and actors Jane Alexander, Richard Chamberlain and Sigourney Weaver. His engaging chamber music with commentary series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Arizona, and the Berkshires. A recipient of three Martha Baird Rockefeller awards, Mr. Hanani’s studies were with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School and with Pablo Casals. His best-selling recording of the Unaccompanied Bach Suites has become a standard-setter, and of his recent Naxos CD with the National Symphony of Ireland Fanfare Magazine wrote: “Renowned cellist Yehuda Hanani, great virtuoso that he is, handles this with astounding aplomb… .”

Close Encounters continues its tradition of commentary before each performance and of inviting the entire audience to a reception to meet the artists immediately following the concerts.

Tickets, $35 or $25 for adults and $10 for students, are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100, through Close Encounters With Music at 800-843-0778 or by emailing [email protected]. Please visit our website at www.cewm.org.

A Night of Quartets Saturday, February 20, 6 PM
The Romantic Bach Saturday, March 20, 6 PM
Chopin and His Circle Saturday, April 24, 6 PM
Prague Spring—Czech Idyll Saturday, June 5, 6 PM

All performances take place at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Tickets for the Conversations with… event is $25 which includes light refreshments:

Chopin Hour Sunday, April 26, 2 PM at the Hudson Opera House, Hudson, New York

“A chamber music series on a par with anything heard at the height of the season. For this, we year-rounders are blessed.” —Rogovoy Report

“There’s a palpable mystique about these Close Encounters concerts.” —Berkshire Eagle

“STUNNER CLOSES SEASON! Though Hanani, Prutsman and Upshaw all performed with that rare combination of mutual understanding and technical finesse which makes for the most satisfying chamber music, Hanani deserves special recognition for his astute program choices.”

—Albany Times Union

“An all-star lineup…CEWM’s usual high caliber.” —Metroland

About Soldier’s Tale! performance December 2009: “…an intriguing project, and a noble effort… exuberant theatrical adventure… Stravinsky’s winsomely galloping waltzes, polkas and marches framing the dialogues were in superb hands with the ensemble.” —Berkshire Eagle