On Thursday, September 27 at 7:30pm, the Telegraph Quartet joins forces with oboist James Austin Smith for a performance presented by the Peggy Rockefeller Concerts Series at The Rockefeller University in Caspary Auditorium.
The Telegraph Quartet will open the program with Erwin Schulhoff’s Five Pieces for string quartet. Together, the musicians will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Oboe Quartet in F Major, K. 370 and Arnold Bax’s Oboe Quintet. The Telegraph Quartet concludes with Antonin Dvořák’s String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat Major, Op. 51 "Slavonic.”
Of working with oboist James Austin Smith, Telegraph Quartet cellist Jeremiah Shaw says, “We were interested in expanding our circle of collaborators and repertoire of chamber music. We discovered James was a regular chamber music partner of tenor Nicholas Phan, with whom we recorded on his album, Illuminations. Having these common collaborators makes for a wonderful and tightly knit chamber music community.”
The music for oboe and strings on this concert harkens back to Shaw’s childhood musical memories. “Growing up as the son of a quartet cellist, I remember listening to a recording of my father’s quartet, the Audubon Quartet, which included the Bax Oboe Quintet with oboist Pamela Woods. This recording made a big impression on me and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to further discover the Bax Quintet as well as the masterwork, Mozart's Oboe Quartet K. 370 with the phenomenal oboist, James Austin Smith.”
The Telegraph Quartet (Eric Chin and Joseph Maile, violins; Pei-Ling Lin, viola; Jeremiah Shaw, cello) formed in 2013 with an equal passion for the standard chamber music repertoire and contemporary, non-standard works alike. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “…an incredibly valuable addition to the cultural landscape” and “powerfully adept… with a combination of brilliance and subtlety,” the Telegraph Quartet was awarded the prestigious 2016 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award and the Grand Prize at the 2014 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. The Quartet has performed in concert halls, music festivals, and academic institutions across the United States and abroad, including New York City’s Carnegie Hall, San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Chamber Masters Series and at festivals including the Chautauqua Institute, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, and the Emilia Romagna Festival. The Quartet is currently on the chamber music faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as their Quartet-in-Residence.
The quartet releases its debut album, Into the Light, on Centaur Records on September 7. The album features three kaleidoscopic and kinetic modern string quartets from the 20th century – Leon Kirchner’s String Quartet No. 1 (1949); Anton Webern’s Webern’s Fünf Sätze (Five Movements), Op. 5 (1909); and Benjamin Britten’s Three Divertimenti (1936).
The Telegraph Quartet chose to record these three brief string quartets for its debut album because each quartet represents a new and vivid musical vocabulary for its time.
“The distinct languages of these pieces lead the listener into imaginary landscapes full of intensity and exoticism,” the Quartet states. “These landscapes are certainly not fallow ground – there have been other musicians blazing these trails before we came along – but we love the idea of bringing this music further into the light, bringing them out of the shadows of the more often celebrated, albeit totally justified, string quartet favorites. Presenting works that may open up a new musical world to our audiences has always been important to us. We hope listeners enjoy exploring the extremes of variety that these great works have to offer.”
Into the Light was recorded at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, in Belvedere Tiburon, California, and was produced and engineered by Jesse Lewis. Pre-Order on Amazon.
Beyond the concert stage, the Telegraph Quartet seeks to spread its music through education and audience engagement. In the Fall of 2017, the Quartet traveled to communities and schools in mid-coast Maine with Yellow Barn’s Music Haul, a mobile performance stage that brings music outside of the concert hall to communities across the U.S. The Quartet has given master classes at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Collegiate and Pre-College Divisions, through the Morrison Artist Series at San Francisco State University, and abroad at the Taipei National University of the Arts and National Taiwan Normal University.
While the Telegraph Quartet is indebted to numerous mentors and teachers, their primary musical guidance and support have come from Mark Sokol, Bonnie Hampton, and Ian Swensen, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The Telegraph Quartet is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit the quartet’s website.
James Austin Smith performs equal parts new and old music across the United States and around the world. Smith is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Talea Ensemble, and the Poulenc Trio as well as co-Artistic Director of Decoda, the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall. Smith’s festival appearances include Marlboro, Lucerne, Chamber Music Northwest, Schleswig-Holstein, Stellenbosch, Bay Chamber Concerts, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Spoleto USA.
Smith received his Master of Music degree in 2008 from the Yale School of Music and graduated in 2005 with Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) and Bachelor of Music degrees from Northwestern University. He spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Leipzig, Germany at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy” and is an alumnus of Ensemble Connect, a collaboration of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, the Weill Music Institute, and the New York City Department of Education. He is a member of the faculties of Stony Brook University, the Manhattan School of Music, and Purchase College and is co-Artistic Director of Tertulia, a chamber music series that takes place in restaurants in New York and San Francisco.
The Peggy Rockefeller Concert Series consists of six musical performances each year by internationally acclaimed artists in Caspary Auditorium at The Rockefeller University. In 1958, Rockefeller chemist Theodore Sedlovsky, an ardent music lover, invited a group of his musician friends to perform in the new auditorium, and the Rockefeller Concert Series was born. After beloved concert-goer Peggy Rockefeller, wife of honorary chairman and life trustee David Rockefeller, passed away in 1996, President Torsten Wiesel proposed that the concerts be renamed in her honor. For many years, Dr. Shedlovsky put together spectacular concerts, presenting high-caliber musicians and ensembles. Later, he entrusted the concert management to his colleague Gerald Edelman, a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist. Currently organized by Professor George N. Reeke, Jr., The Peggy Rockefeller Concerts remain a faculty initiative, exemplifying the important partnership of science and music.
Get tickets at the Rockefeller website.