From the launch of a new CD to a rare performance of one of the most beautiful works ever written for eight string players, Quartet Fest West will electrify audiences and students alike. An intensive chamber music workshop welcoming select national and international students, Quartet Fest West runs June 8-19 at the School of Music.
Now in its third year of revival, Quartet Fest West originally ran from 1993 to 1998 and has continued to be popular with performers and audiences. Hosted by the Lafayette String Quartet—UVic’s beloved artists-in-residence since 1991—this year’s acclaimed guest artists include violist Henk Guittart, pianist Alexander Tselyakov and the Penderecki String Quartet, who were part of the original Quartet Fest West in 1993.
Quartet Fest West offers an unparalleled string quartet experience, including a series of concerts, masterclasses and workshops, all of which are open to the public in UVic’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Tickets for all concerts are $12 students / $25 regular or a three-concert pass is available at $25 students / $65 regular, but masterclasses and the Henk Guittart’s evening lecture are by donation.
“It’s a very high-pressure job … [but] you get to interpret the music, you don’t have to go along with a section,” LSQ violist Joanna Hood says about the challenges of the string quartet experience in this Times Colonist article. “You get to shape the music more. And the music that’s written for string quartet is such great repertoire.”
Quartet Fest West opens with a June 10 concert celebrating the launch of the Lafayette String Quartet’s latest CD, Motion and Distance.
Originally commissioned to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival in 2014, “In a World of Motion and Distance” was written for Alexander Tselyakov and the Lafayette String Quartet. The piece takes its title from a poem by Philippe Jaccottet, “Les Distances,” which reminds us that even though the birds in the sky are at a great distance, the stars are even further. Yet the poem also offers a solution: no matter what the distance between tree to bird, to sky, to stars, we can move through it all because we live in a world of motion and distance.
Divided into three contrasting movements (fast, slow, fast), the initial catalyst for the piece was in drawing parallels between the creative process and the annealing of glass and metal. Elements are refined, purified, and strengthened through slow, intense heat followed by cooling; in the composition of music, the parallel processes would be doubt, revision, and persistence. At the beginning of any project, the concepts and ideas are at a great distance from the concert hall. One has to struggle, grasp, and push in order to commence and then to continue moving forward through that distance between inspiration and the finished piece.
At the June 10 concert, the LSQ will be performing selections from the album, as well as a new piano quintet by Kelly Marie-Murphy with pianist Alexander Tselyakov and guest violist Yariv Aloni. Also on the program is the beautiful “Hummell Piano Quintet”, Shostakovich’s jazz-infused “13th Quartet” and a viola quintet by Michael Haydn, the younger brother of Joseph Haydn.
The June 13 concert features the Penderecki String Quartet, Wilfrid Laurier University’s remarkable quartet-in-residence, performing Beethoven “Op. 18, No 3”, “Penderecki No. 3” and Smetena’s beautiful “Quartet No. 1, From My Life.”
On June 14, renowned violist Henk Guittart speaks about his quartet’s long relationship with the great chamber musician Eugene Lehner.
The performance on June 16 features these two great Canadian string quartets—the Lafayette and Penderecki—uniting to perform one of the most beautiful works for eight string performers ever written, the rarely-performed “Enescu Octet”. Also on the program the magnificent “Cello Quintet in C” by Franz Schubert.
Finally, QFW comes to a conclusion with the June 19 Participants Concert, featuring the participating student quartets of Quartet Fest West 2015. The students will be performing select movements from Brahms’ Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111, Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96, Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in D Major, Op. 44 and Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110. Admission to this concert is by donation.