The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — Britain’s world-renowned Fitzwilliam String Quartet will be in residence at Bucknell University in February. The quartet will give four concerts, meet with classes and present several workshops during their residency.
All concerts, which are free and open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Rooke Recital Hall of the Weis Music Building.
“The Fitzwilliam is one of the very few string quartets in Britain that performs on both historical and modern instruments,” said Barry Hannigan, professor of music at Bucknell. “Yet they have been very active promoters of new music, and are responsible for bringing fifty new works into the concert repertoire.”
“Quartet-in-residence at the Universities of York and Warwick, they also were affiliate artists at Bucknell from 1978 to 1986, returning to campus on a regular basis beginning in 1998 and, most recently, last year. Those lucky enough to have heard the quartet over the years can attest to the high quality of their performances.”
“It is an extraordinary opportunity for the community to hear these musicians for free. We sincerely thank the generosity of the Kushell family, which has endowed a series of residencies for the Bucknell Music Department,” he said.
Members of the string quartet are Alan George, viola, an original member of the quartet; Lucy Russell, violin; Marcus Barcham-Stevens, violin; and Heather Tuach, violoncello.
Founded in 1968 by four Cambridge undergraduates, the Fitzwilliam first became well known through their close personal association with Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who entrusted them with the Western premières of his last three quartets.
Only a year into their residency at York, the Fitzwilliam premiered Shostakovich’s “13th Quartet” to the composer’s delight. In fact, the composer called the ensemble his “preferred performers of my quartets.” The Fitzwilliam continued to introduce Shostakovich’s quartets to the West, becoming the first group ever to record and perform all 15; complete cycles were given in a number of major cities, including London, New York, and Montréal.
“An exceptionally special concert will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 12, when the Fitzwilliam celebrate the 40th anniversary of Shostakovich’s visit to their home in England. In honor of that time, they will perform the exact program that was played for Shostakovich,” said Barry Hannigan, a professor of music at Bucknell who will join the Fitzwilliam along with a number of other Bucknell faculty members as guest performers.
The Bucknell concert program includes:
— Thursday, Feb. 7: with Barry Hannigan, piano; Mary Hannigan, flute; and Sezi Seskir, piano. They join the Fitzwilliam in a program including Britten’s “Cello Sonata,” Martinu’s “Madrigal for violin and viola, Beethoven’s “Flute Serenade” and Schumann’s “Piano Quartet.
— Thursday, Feb. 14: with Cathal Breslin, piano; Christopher Para, violin and viola; Andrew Rammon, cello; and Sezi Seskir, piano, in a program including Haydn’s “Quartet in D major, Op. 71/2,” Alan Ridout’s “Ferdinand and the Bull,” Mozart’s “Sonata in E minor, K.304” and Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence.” A highlight of the Valentine’s Day program is the composition “calling westward” by Bucknell composer Paul Botelho.
— Sunday, Feb. 17: with Barry Hannigan, piano; Bill Kenny, horn; and Kent Larmee, horn, in a program including Beethoven’s ‘Horn Sextet,” Britten’s “Quartet No. 3” and Brahms’ “Piano Quintet.”
In addition to the concert schedule, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet will perform Sunday, Feb. 10, at the 11 a.m. Worship Service in Rooke Chapel. The music includes Introit, Anthem and Offertory by Ola Gjello, with the Rooke Chapel Choir and David Cover, piano.
The residency is supported by the Kushell Music Endowment of Bucknell University. For more information concerning the concerts or class visits, call 570-577-1239.