Berkeley’s Crowden Music Center Kicks Off 40th Anniversary Season
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Berkeley’s Crowden Music Center Kicks Off 40th Anniversary Season
with Baumer String Quartet Concert Sunday, September 17
11 September 2023 – Berkeley, CA: “Music can change the world because it can change people,” Bono of U2 fame said, and nowhere is that more evident than at Berkeley’s Crowden Music Center (www.crowden.org). A bastion of music education and innovative pedagogy for the past 40 years, Crowden launches its 40th Anniversary celebration Sunday, September 17, at 4 pm, featuring the Baumer String Quartet. This significant milestone offers an opportunity to celebrate Crowden’s history, its impact on classical music in the Bay Area and around the world, and its exciting future.
To kick off its 40th year, Crowden is proud to host the Baumer String Quartet, featuring three globally acclaimed Bay Area locals who went to middle school together at The Crowden School: Dallas Symphony Co-Concertmaster Nathan Olson (’00), Phoenix Symphony violinist Aaron Requiro (’95),and his younger brother, Naumburg International Violoncello Competition-winning cellist David Requiro (’99). Hailed as one of the finest young quartets in the country by critics and audiences alike, the Baumer String Quartet is renowned for its technical finesse, warmth of expression, and cutting-edge performances.
Immediately following the concert, attendees can join Crowden’s 40th Anniversary Launch Party featuring catered hors d’oeuvres, a wine bar, and special announcements regarding the celebratory 40th season. General admission tickets for the entire event are $35, with discounted rates for seniors and students. Children under 18 can attend free of charge.
“I am so proud to announce an incredible 40th anniversary season that showcases outstanding alumni, faculty, and performers from Crowden’s rich history, while celebrating Crowden’s role in the future of music,” remarks Artistic Director Eugene Sor. In addition to the Baumer String Quartet, Crowden’s 2023-24 Sundays @ Four chamber music series includes alum cellist phenom Jay Campbell (’03), Grammy® Award-winning Catalyst Quartet featuring Crowden alum violinist Karla Donehew Perez (’99), as well as the renowned Fry Street Quartet, who have frequently served on Crowden’s summer Chamber Music Workshop faculty.
Crowden’s 40th anniversary celebrations also include its upcoming free music festival for all ages, Community Music Day, on October 10, 10am to 2pm, and culminate next May with a 40th Anniversary Concert at UC Berkeley’s Hertz Hall. “Our 40th Anniversary Concert boasts an amazing list of performers and composers spanning Crowden’s illustrious history, including the Catalyst Quartet, alum pianist Audrey Vardanega (’09), incomparable cellist Bonnie Hampton, and world-renowned violinists Nora Chastain and David McCarroll (’99), as well as Crowden musicians and faculty of all ages,” shares Eugene Sor. “The future of music will be represented not only by our stellar young musicians and alumni, but Crowden composers as well. Our 40th Anniversary Concert will feature alum composer Gabriella Smith (’05, John Adams Young Composers Program) and a world premiere and 40th anniversary commission by alum Samuel Adams (’00), as well as incredible patron of the arts, transformational benefactor of Crowden,and Crowden’s 40th Anniversary Concert Honoree, composer Gordon Getty.”
Ann and Gordon Getty’s extended relationship with Crowden has been monumental. The Crowden Board of Trustees established the Ann and Gordon Getty Fund with the couple’s $10 million donation, geared towards expanding access to the magic of a Crowden education.
Originally founded in 1983 as a middle school dedicated to improving the intellectual development and social-emotional lives of adolescents through music, the Crowden School remains the only school of its kind in the country. Today it serves students in grades 3-8 with an inspiring, whole-child education rooted in the collaborative art of chamber music. “At the Crowden School, every day begins with music,” explains Head of School Dan Meyers. “This simple practice has powerful benefits for our students: activating both sides of their brains, inspiring their creative energy, and encouraging them to find resonance with each other. Then, students bring that engagement and excitement into their academic classrooms. Working collaboratively, Crowden School students use the process of inquiry and discussion to explore essential questions, design experiments, analyze literature, and discover the joys of learning across disciplines.”
In addition to its pioneering day school, Crowden serves more than 1,000 music students of all ages through private lessons, classes, ensembles, and summer camps. Flagship programs for the general community include its John Adams Young Composers Program and acclaimed chamber music programs for youth and adults. Crowden reaches a combined audience of 8,000 with a rich array of workshops, events, and concerts each year. Learn how music changes everything at https://www.crowden.org.
Crowden 40th Anniversary 2023–2024 Season Calendar
September 17, 2023, 4:00pm
Sundays @ Four: Baumer String Quartet
Crowden Music Center (1475 Rose St., Berkeley)
An extraordinary ensemble featuring no less than three Crowden School alums, brothers David Requiro (’99) and Aaron Requiro (‘95), and Nathan Olson (’00).
October 8, 2023
Community Music Day
Crowden Music Center (1475 Rose St., Berkeley)
Our 23rd annual Community Music Day, Crowden’s free musical carnival for all ages, will feature beloved attractions like our popular Instrument Petting Zoo, and expanded musical programming reflecting the breadth of Crowden’s educational programs.
November 12, 2023, 4:00pm
Sundays @ Four: Jay Campbell (’03)
Crowden Music Center (1475 Rose St., Berkeley)
The only musician ever to receive two Avery Fisher Career Grants —as a soloist, and again as a member of the JACK Quartet—Crowden alum cellist Jay Campbell’s performances have been called “electrifying” (New York Times) and “gentle, poignant, and deeply moving” (Washington Post).
March 3, 2024, 4:00pm
Sundays @ Four: Fry Street Quartet
Crowden Music Center (1475 Rose St., Berkeley)
Hailed as “a triumph of ensemble playing” by the New York Times, this globally acclaimed, Fischoff Grand Prize-winning quartet of sometimes Crowden summer faculty members perform Beethoven, Lena Frank, and Shostakovich.
Ludwig van Beethoven Quartet in F Major, Op.135
Gabriela Lena Frank TBA
Dmitri Shostakovich Quartet No. 9 in E-flat Major, Op. 117
April 21, 2024, 4:00pm
Sundays @ Four: Catalyst Quartet
Crowden Music Center (1475 Rose St., Berkeley)
Grammy® Award-winning Catalyst Quartet, featuring alumna Karla Donehew Perez (’99), tours the world to acclaim for its “perfect ensemble unity” and “unequaled class of execution” (Lincoln Journal Star).
“But just a minute”, Paquito D’Rivera
“Farewell mambo”, P. D’Rivera
“Wapango”, P. D’Rivera
Angel Suite, Astor Piazzolla (arr. Catalyst Quartet)
String Quartet, Germaine Tailleferre (Gershwin lullaby)
String Quartet in F Major, Maurice Ravel
May 25, 2024
Crowden 40th Anniversary Concert &mReception
Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley
An unforgettable showcase of Crowden alumni, mentors, and friends at Hertz Hall, including Bonnie Hampton, Audrey Vardanega, the Catalyst Quartet, and more. This program features perennial Crowden favorites paired with special moments, including a work composed by Crowden’s greatest benefactor, composer Gordon Getty, and the world premiere of a new work for two violins and string orchestra by Samuel Adams, commissioned for our 40th anniversary and premiered by two acclaimed Crowden violinists: Nora Chastain, a student of founder Anne Crowden and world famous soloist and chamber musician, and alumnus David McCarroll (’99), Concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, formerly a member of the famed Vienna Piano Trio.
* David McCarroll (’99) and Nora Chastain performing Samuel Adams premiere with an orchestra of Crowden faculty, alumni, and current students.
* Catalyst Quartet performing a movement of Mendelssohn Octet
* Bonnie Hampton-led cello ensemble
* Friction Quartet performing Carrot Revolution by Gabriella Smith
* Audrey Vardanega and violinist TBA performing works by Piazzolla
* Gordon Getty composition TBA
* Crowden faculty and alumni orchestra performing Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan Williams (an Anne Crowden favorite)
* Premiere of a John Adams Young Composers Program student composition, performed by The Crowden School Lower School Orchestra
May 26, 2024
Crowden 40th Anniversary Alumni Brunch
Crowden Music Center (1475 Rose St., Berkeley)
Crowden alumni from all programs, alum families from all eras, and current and former faculty from throughout Crowden’s history to join us for a joyous brunch honoring Crowden alums from the past 40 years.
Crowden Music Center (1475 Rose St., Berkeley)
How many celli fit into Hoefer Auditorium? Find out at our informal cello play-in!
Crowden 40th Anniversary 2023–2024
Samuel Adams (’00, commissioned composer)
Samuel Adams (b. 1985) is an American composer whose music weaves acoustic and digital sound into “mesmerizing” (New York Times) orchestrations. Sought after by orchestras and contemporary ensembles alike, he has received commissions from a broad range of organizations including San Francisco Symphony, Carnegie Hall, New World Symphony, The Australian Chamber Orchestra, and Spektral Quartet, and has collaborated with performers and conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Robertson, MTT, violinists Anthony Marwood, Jennifer Koh, Karen Gomyo, and pianists Emanuel Ax, Sarah Cahill, David Fung, and Joyce Yang.
The 2022-23 season highlighted several world premieres including Echo Transcriptions, a new work for electric violin and orchestra commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra for Richard Tognetti. The work was taken on a national tour of Australia in late 2022 and received North American performances in California and Toronto the following Spring. In February, pianist Conor Hanick and the San Francisco Symphony premiered a new work under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, and the following week, the Cincinnati Symphony premiered Adams’s Variations, a 2020 orchestral work co-commissioned by the CSO and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. Other season highlights include a performance of Adams’s 2017 Chamber Concerto with violinist Karen Gomyo and the release of a new record featuring the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet.
Adams was Mead Composer In Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 2015 to 2018 and in the 2021-22 season was the Composer in Residence with Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He has held residencies at Civitella Ranieri (Umbria, IT), Djerassi Resident Artists Program (California, USA), Ucross (Wyoming, USA), and Visby International Centre for Composers (Gotland, SE). He is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow and lives and works in Seattle, WA.
Baumer String Quartet (Sundays @ Four artist; summer faculty, alums Nathan Olson Crowden School ‘00, Aaron Requiro Crowden School ’95, David Requiro Crowden School ‘99)
Acknowledged as one of the finest young quartets in the country, the Baumer String Quartet was founded in 2003 at the Cleveland Institute of Music. The members of the Quartet pursue parallel careers as international soloists, leaders and principal players of world-class orchestras, as members of eminent chamber groups, and as professors of music. Baumer String Quartet members perform with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Dallas Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, the Utah Symphony, and the Santa Fe Opera. The Quartet comes together for limited touring engagements on a project-by-project basis, and rather than committing to a year-round schedule, the members of the Quartet meet for short musical residencies, providing a fresh perspective on interpretations of the traditional string quartet repertoire.
The Baumer String Quartet is quickly distinguishing itself among audiences and critics for their technical finesse, warmth of expression, and cutting-edge performances. Formerly known as the Kashii String Quartet, they won the Silver Medal at the 2005 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and Second Prize at the 2005 Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition. They worked closely with members of the Cleveland, Alban Berg, Vogler, Takács, Cavani, Borromeo, Brentano, Orion, St. Lawrence, and Juilliard String Quartets, as well as Isaac Stern in the “Stern Encounters” master class series. The Quartet was selected to participate in the International Artist Program at Music@Menlo, and worked closely with members of the Emerson String Quartet at Stony Brook University.
Dedicated to educating and inspiring young musicians, the Baumer SQ founded the week-long Monterey (CA) Chamber Music Workshop, where they offered tuition-free intensive chamber music sessions to local students. The quartet has also served on faculty at the Crowden Chamber Music Workshop and the Innsbrook Music Festival. Members of the Quartet hold and have held faculty positions at the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of South Florida, the University of North Texas, the University of Puget Sound, and Southern Methodist University. The Quartet has been invited as featured artists for residencies at the University of South Florida, University of North Texas, Southern Methodist University, and the University of South Dakota, which included performance collaborations with faculty and students, as well as masterclasses, open rehearsals, and other educational events.
Strong advocates for new music, members of the Quartet have collaborated with composers Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, Joan Tower, Elliott Carter, and Jennifer Higdon. They have premiered works by Tan Dun, Pierre Jalbert, Lou Harrison, Sydney Hodkinson, and Conor Brown. The Quartet premiered Charles Krenner’s String Quartet no. 1, and performed the Turtle Island Quartet’s arrangement of Egberto Gismonti’s Palhaço with former Turtle Island Quartet member (and Crowden summer faculty member) Evan Price. In 2019, the Quartet premiered Quinn Mason’s String Quartet no. 2, in collaboration with Dallas-based Avant Chamber Ballet. Most recently, the Quartet was involved in the commission of Sundial for string quartet and percussion by Samuel Adams. With guitarist David Tanenbaum, the Quartet recorded Aaron Jay Kernis’s 100 Greatest Dance Hits on the Black Box label.
The Baumer String Quartet is a proud affiliate of InterMusic SF. Their album of string quartets by Mozart and Dvořák will be released in the next year.
Jay Campbell (Sundays @ Four artist, Crowden School ’03)
Praised by The New York Times for his “electrifying performances,” cellist Jay Campbell is currently the only artist to have received two Avery Fisher Career Grants: as a cello soloist and as a member of the JACK Quartet. Armed with a diverse spectrum of repertoire and eclectic musical interests, he has been recognized for approaching both old and new works with the same probing virtuosity and emotional commitment.
Among upcoming highlights are his world premiere performances of Andreia Pinto Correia’s new cello concerto with both the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon and the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra in Brazil. He will return to San Francisco Performances and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series, where he previously served as co-curator with composer John Adams. Mr. Campbell recently concluded (to rave reviews) a U.S. tour with Swiss violinist, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, with performances at major venues such as the Kennedy Center, Boston Celebrity Series, and San Francisco Performances; the Italian premiere of Luca Francesconi’s concerto Das Ding singt with Musica Milano; and a performance of the Brahms Double Concerto with the Seattle Symphony and violinist, Pablo Rus Broseta.
Recipient of awards from the BMI and ASCAP foundations, Jay Campbell was also First Prize winner of the 2012 Concert Artists Guild auditions, and Second Prize winner of the 2015 Walter W. Naumburg International Cello Competition, competing against more than a hundred cellists worldwide. He holds an Artist Diploma, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School, where he was a student of Fred Sherry. Jay Campbell plays a cello crafted in the 1750s by Italian luthier, Paolo Antonio Testore of Milan.
“… its textures whisper and quiver, with silences and faint notes, rendered almost orthographic by Mr. Campbell’s clarity and specificity, alternating with frenetic dissolution.” – The New York Times
Catalyst Quartet (Sundays @ Four and Hertz Hall artist, alum member Karla Donehew Perez, Crowden School ’99)
Hailed by The New York Times at its Carnegie Hall debut as “invariably energetic and finely burnished… playing with earthy vigor,” the Grammy Award-winning Catalyst Quartet was founded by the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Organization in 2010. The ensemble (Karla Donehew Perez, violin (Crowden School ’99); Abi Fayette, violin; Paul Laraia, viola; and Karlos Rodriguez, cello) believes in the unity that can be achieved through music and imagine their programs and projects with this in mind, redefining and reimagining the classical music experience.
The Catalyst Quartet, known for “perfect ensemble unity” and “unequaled class of execution” (Lincoln Journal Star), has toured widely throughout the United States and abroad, including sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., at Chicago’s Harris Theater, Miami’s New World Center, and Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall in New York. The quartet has been guest soloists with the Cincinnati Symphony, New Haven Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá, and has served as principal players and featured ensemble with the Sphinx Organization’s featured ensemble, the Sphinx Virtuosi, on six national tours. They have been invited to perform at important music festivals such as Mainly Mozart in San Diego, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Sitka Music Festival, Juneau Jazz and Classics, Strings Music Festival, and the Grand Canyon Music Festival, where they appear annually. The Catalyst Quartet was ensemble-in-residence at the Vail Dance Festival in 2016 and in the 2021-22 season were in residence with San Francisco Performances where they presented the complete series of works from their Uncovered Project. In 2014, they opened the Festival del Sole in Napa, California with Joshua Bell and participated in England’s Aldeburgh Music Foundation String Quartet Residency with two performances in Jubilee Hall. In 2022 the Catalyst Quartet was named ensemble in residence for the Chamber Music Northwest Festival in Portland and for the Met Museum’s LiveArts series in NYC.
Recent seasons have brought international engagements in Cuba, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Puerto Rico, and expanded tours throughout the United States. The ensemble’s New York City presence has included concerts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, for Schneider Concerts at The New School, for Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series, at the 92nd Street Y, and six concerts with GRAMMY Award-winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant for Jazz at Lincoln Center, for which the subsequent recording won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. The Catalyst Quartet launched its New York concert series CQ@Howl in 2018.
Highlights of past collaborations include Encuentros, featuring a commissioned work by innovative Cuban composer Jorge Amado Molina and other voices from across the Cuban diaspora; (Im)migration: Music of Change, a collaboration with the Imani Winds; and CQ Minute, a commissioning project of 10 miniature string quartets in commemoration of the quartet’s 10th anniversary with works by Andy Akiho, Kishi Bashi, Billy Childs, Paquito D’Rivera, Tania Leon, Jessie Montgomery, Kevin Puts, Caroline Shaw, Joan Tower, and two young composers selected from a national call for scores. The quartet premiered “Passage,” a chamber ballet by Jessie Montgomery in celebration of Dance Theater of Harlem on their 50th anniversary with Kennedy Center honoree Tania Leon, and was ensemble-in-residence for the Vail International Dance Festival, where they collaborated with members of the Silkroad Ensemble and some of the finest dancers in the world. Catalyst Quartet’s largest ongoing project, UNCOVERED, is a multi-volume set of albums on Azica records that celebrates composers of color whose works have been overlooked by the traditional canon. Volume 1, released February 2021, includes the string quartet and quintets of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Volume 2 features works by Florence B. Price and Volume 3, released February 2023, features Coleridge-Taylor, Perkinson, William Grant Still, and George Walker.
The Catalyst Quartet’s recordings span the ensemble’s scope of interests and artistry. Its debut album, The Bach/Gould Project, features the quartet’s own collaborative arrangement of J.S. Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations, the first ever 4-voiced version of the piece, paired with Glenn Gould’s rarely heard String Quartet Op. 1. The ensemble can also be heard on Strum (Azica 2015), the solo debut album of composer Jessie Montgomery, who was a member violinist from 2012 to 2020; Bandoneón y cuerdas (Progressive Sounds 2017), tango-inspired music for string quartet and bandoneon by JP Jofre; and Dreams and Daggers (Mack Avenue Records 2017), a two-CD GRAMMY-winning album with Cecile McLorin Salvant.
The Catalyst Quartet combines a serious commitment to diversity and education with a passion for contemporary works. The ensemble has served as principal faculty at the Sphinx Performance Academy at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Curtis Institute of Music. The Catalyst Quartet’s ongoing residencies include interactive performance presentations and workshops with Native American student composers at the Grand Canyon Music Festival. Past residencies have included concerts and masterclasses at The University Of Michigan, University Of Washington, Rice University’s Shepard School of Music, Houston’s Society for the Performing Arts, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, The Virginia Arts Festival, and Pennsylvania State University, and internationally at the In Harmony Project in England, The University of South Africa, and The Teatro De Bellas Artes in Cali, Colombia. The ensemble’s residency in Havana, Cuba for the Cuban American Youth Orchestra in January 2019, was the first by an American string quartet since the revolution. The Catalyst Quartet members hold degrees from The Cleveland Institute of Music, Curtis Institute of Music, Juilliard School, and New England Conservatory. The Catalyst Quartet proudly endorses Pirastro strings.
“Like all great chamber groups, the Catalyst Quartet is beautiful to watch, like a family in lively conversation at the dinner table: anticipating, interrupting, changing subjects.” – The New York Times
Nora Chastain, violin (Hertz Hall Adams soloist, student of Anne Crowden)
American violinist Nora Chastain was described by Sir Yehudi Menuhin as “…..one of the most elegant and refined violinists I know.”
The granddaughter of American composer Roy Harris, Ms. Chastain was born in Berkeley, California. After beginning her violin studies with Anne Crowden, she continued at the Cincinnati Conservatory and the Julliard School with Dorothy Delay. Later, at the International Menuhin Music Academy Gstaad, she was a student of Alberto Lysy, Ana Chumachenco and Sir Yehudi Menuhin. She also worked intensively with Sandor Vegh.
At age sixteen, Ms. Chastain made her debut in Berlin with Barber Violin Concerto. Since then, she has been a regular guest soloist with such orchestras as the San Francisco Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Cincinnati Philharmonia, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Basel Chamber Orchestra, Württemburgisches Kammerorcheter Heilbronn, Orquestra Nacional do Porto, MDR Symphonieorchester Leipzig, Frankfurt Opera Orchestra, Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Bern Symphony Orchestra, and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Peru. She has worked with conductors such as Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Sebastian Weigle, Jose Serebrier, Michael Sanderling, David Stern and Marc Tardue. In addition, many composers have written works for Ms. Chastain, among them Daniel Schnyder, Gerhard Samuel, Susanna Erding, and Georg Wörzer.
An avid chamber music player, Ms. Chastain is a founding member of the Menuhin Festival Piano Quartet and Trio Kreisleriana. With them, she has toured extensively, playing in concert halls in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn, Paris, Milano, Zürich, Geneva, Edinburgh, Washington DC, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Sydney.
Her chamber groups have performed at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Ludwigsburger Schlossfestpiele, Schwetzingen Festspielen and Menuhin Festival Gstaad. She has collaborated in chamber music projects with, among others, Sharon Kam, David Geringas, Pascal Devoyon, Joshua Bell as well as with the Faure Piano Quartet, the Carmina Quartet, and the Merel Quartet.
Bonnie Hampton, (Hertz Hall artist, Crowden Music Advisory Board member, longtime Crowden mentor)
Bonnie Hampton, the globally acclaimed cellist and pedagogue, is a member of Crowden’s Music Advisory Board and has been a mentor and frequent coach since the school’s founding. In 1964, Bonnie was a founding member of the acclaimed Francesco Trio, which won the Naumburg Chamber Award, and attained a Residency at Stanford University. In 1972, Bonnie joined the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she taught for 30 years. During her tenure, Bonnie started the Conservatory’s Masters Degree in Chamber Music, the first of its kind in the nation. She spent nine years in New York in order to accept a teaching contract with Julliard. Bonnie is now living, teaching, and mentoring a new generation of students in her native Bay Area.
Friction Quartet (Hertz Hall artist, cellist on faculty, frequent Crowden guest artists)
Friction Quartet, whose performances have been called “terribly beautiful” (San Francisco Classical Voice), “stunningly passionate” (Calgary Herald) and “exquisitely skilled” (ZealNYC), exists to modernize the chamber music experience and expand the string quartet repertoire. Friction achieves its mission by commissioning new works, curating imaginative programs, collaborating with artists, and presenting interactive educational outreach. Joshua Kosman (San Francisco Chronicle) declared that Friction Quartet is “an artist who should be discovered” and described their performance as “high-octane music making…a fine blend of rhythmic ferocity and tonal flair.”
Friction made their debut at Carnegie Hall in 2016 as participants in the Kronos Quartet Fifty for the Future Workshop. They returned in March of 2018 to perform George Crumb’s Black Angels as part of “The 60’s” festival and their performance was described as, “one of the truest and most moving things I’ve ever heard or seen.” (Zeal NYC).
Since forming in 2011, Friction has commissioned 43 works for string quartet and given world premiere performances of more than 80 works. They developed the Friction Commissioning Initiative in 2017 as a way to work together with their audience to fund specific commissions. The $14,000 raised to date has helped Friction commission a total of 12 new works, including six by young composers between the ages 16 and 21. They were awarded a 2019 Intermusic SF Musical Grant to develop a participatory educational program with composer Danny Clay that is designed to be accessible and sensory-friendly. The project is slated to premiere in the Fall of 2020 at the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco. Friction’s past grants include a grant from Chamber Music America that was used to commission a piano quintet from Andy Akiho, which debuted in November 2016, as well as project grants from Intermusic SF and Zellerbach Family Foundation supporting special projects involving the performance of commissioned works.
While Friction has garnered international attention as commissioners and interpreters of new music, they are also devoted to performing masterworks of the string quartet repertoire at the highest level. They won Second Prize in the 2016 Schoenfeld Competition, they were quarter-finalists in the 2015 Fischoff Competition and placed second at the 2015 Frances Walton Competition.
Friction has held residencies at the New Music for Strings Festival in Denmark, Interlochen Arts Camp, Lunenburg Academy of Music in Nova Scotia, Napa Valley Performing Arts Center, Old First Concerts, San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, and was the first ensemble in residence at the Center for New Music. Friction Quartet is dedicated to building new audiences for contemporary music through interactive musical enrichment programs. They are participating for the third consecutive year in the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music program, visiting over 60 public schools annually. They are Ensemble Partners with Young Composers & Improvisors Workshop, workshopping and premiering new works written by young composers in the Bay Area. They have also given presentations at Oakland public schools through KDFC’s Playground Pop Up program. In collaboration with Meridian Hill Pictures, they created a short documentary, titled Friction, that profiles their early educational outreach in Washington DC’s Mundo Verde Public Charter School. Their presentations regularly utilize Doug’s adventurous arrangements of Pop songs alongside excerpts from standard string quartet repertoire to help young audiences build connections to musical concepts.
Friction appears on recordings with National Sawdust Tracks, Innova Records, Albany Records, Pinna Records, and many independent releases. They released their full-length debut album, resolve, in 2018 through Bandcamp. Friction has appeared on radio stations such as NPR, KALW, KING-FM, and KUT, among others.
Friction’s video of the second movement of First Quartet by John Adams was named the #2 video of the year in 2015 by Second Inversion. John Adams shared this video on his own homepage and called it “spectacular.” Their video for Andy Akiho’s In/ Exchange, featuring Friction and Akiho, was also chosen by Second Inversion for their Top 5 videos of 2016. The video was also featured on American Public Media’s Performance Today.
Friction Quartet takes risks to enlarge the audience’s understanding of what a string quartet can be using arrangements of pop music, digital processing, percussion, amplification, movement, and additional media. Their multimedia and interdisciplinary projects have received critical acclaim. In 2017 they produced Spaced Out, an evening-length suite of music about the cosmos that utilizes surround sound electronics and includes a Friction Commission written by Jon Kulpa. San Francisco Classical Voice called it “accessible, yet surreal.” No matter where their musical exploration takes them, they never lose sight of the string quartet’s essence–the timeless and endlessly nuanced interaction of four analog voices.
Fry Street Quartet (Sundays @ Four artist, summer faculty)
This remarkable quartet – hailed as “a triumph of ensemble playing” by the New York Times – is a multi-faceted ensemble taking chamber music in new directions. The quartet has reached audiences from Carnegie Hall to London, and Sarajevo to Jerusalem, exploring the medium of the string quartet and its life-affirming potential with “profound understanding…depth of expression, and stunning technical astuteness” (Deseret Morning News).
With a discography that includes a wide range of works from Haydn and Beethoven to Stravinsky, Rorem, and Kaminsky, the quartet is known for being “Equally at home in the classic repertoire of Mozart and Beethoven or contemporary music,” (Palm Beach Daily News). The FSQ has commissioned and toured new works by a wide range of composers, and upcoming commissions include quartets by Clarice Assad, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Laura Kaminsky. After more than 50 performances in three different countries, Rising Tide: The Crossroads Project continues to resonate with audiences. A collaboration with physicist Dr. Robert Davies, this fresh approach to communicating society’s sustainability challenges draws upon all the senses with a unique blend of science and art. A film version of the project was released in fall of 2020.
The quartet’s touring history includes performances at major venues and festivals, and for distinguished series such as Carnegie Hall and the Schneider Series at the New School in New York, the Jewel Box series in Chicago, Chamber Music Columbus, the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, the DiBartolo Performing Arts Center at Notre Dame, the Theosophical Society in London, and the Mozart Gemeinde in Klagenfurt, Austria.
The Fry Street Quartet holds the Dan C. and Manon Caine Russell Endowed String Quartet Residency at the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University. In 2019 the members of the FSQ were named co-Music Directors of the NOVA Chamber Music Series in Salt Lake City, an appointment that continues through 2024.
David McCarroll (Crowden School ‘99, Hertz Hall Adams soloist)
David McCarroll has been appointed concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, holding the Rachel Mellon Walton Concertmaster Chair, beginning with the 2022-2023 season. He has been described by Musik Heute as “a violinist of mature musicality and deep understanding of his repertoire whose playing is distinguished by clarity of form and line.”
Winner of the 2012 European Young Concert Artists Auditions, he made his concerto debut with the London Mozart Players in 2002 and has since appeared as soloist with many orchestras including the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich (Simone Young, Grafenegg), Hong Kong Sinfonietta (Christoph Poppen), Santa Rosa Symphony, and Philharmonie Zuidnederland. He regularly performs in major concert halls such as the Konzerthaus Berlin, Vienna Konzerthaus and Musikverein, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw, Wigmore Hall, Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, 92nd Street Y, and Carnegie Hall, while his performances have been broadcast on many radio stations including WGBH Boston, WQXR New York, National Public Radio, Ö1, BR-Klassik and the BBC.
Also an active chamber musician, he served from 2015 to 2022 as the violinist of the renowned Vienna Piano Trio with whom he toured and recorded extensively. The Trio’s recording of the complete Brahms piano trios was awarded the 2017 Echo Klassik prize and in 2020 the Trio’s Beethoven recording won the Opus Klassik award.
In addition, David has performed in many chamber ensembles with musicians including Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Miriam Fried, Pamela Frank, Anthony Marwood, Donald Weilerstein, Kim Kashkashian, Roger Tapping, Marcy Rosen, Peter Wiley, Charles Neidich, Jörg Widmann, and Radovan Vlatkovic, while he is a regular guest at festivals such as Marlboro, the Schubertiade, Heidelberger Frühling, Grafenegg, Lucerne Festival, Menuhin Festival Gstaad, Siete Lagos (Argentina), ChamberFest Cleveland, Portland Chamber Music Festival, and with the Israeli Chamber Project. Recent performances have included Stravinsky’s violin concerto at the Konzerthaus Berlin, touring with Musicians from Marlboro, and performances of György Kurtág’s “Kafka Fragments” for violin and soprano.
In demand as a teacher, David taught a full violin class for one year at Salzburg’s Mozarteum University, and has taught both violin and chamber music at Ravinia’s Steans Institute, at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and at the San Francisco Conservatory.
David was born in Santa Rosa, California in 1986 and began studying the violin with Helen Payne Sloat at the age of 4. At 8, he attended the Crowden School of Music in Berkeley studying with Anne Crowden. When David was 13, he received an invitation to join an international group of 60 young music students at the Yehudi Menuhin School outside London where he studied for five years with Simon Fischer. David continued his studies with Donald Weilerstein and Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston receiving a Master’s degree, and with Antje Weithaas in the Konzertexamen (Artist Diploma) program at the Hanns Eisler Academy in Berlin.
In addition to music, David maintains an active interest in social concerns, including the needs of those impacted by the AIDS pandemic; he is currently working on projects of the Starcross Community to help AIDS orphans in Africa. David has performed in programs encouraging world peace promoted by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and has given benefit concerts for Doctors Without Borders. With other members of his family, David has worked to get strings to young music students in Cuba where such items are very difficult to obtain. David plays a 1761 violin made by A&J Gagliano.
Gabriella Smith (Crowden School ’05, John Adams Young Composers Program, commissioned composer)
Composer Gabriella Smith grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area playing and writing music, hiking, backpacking, and volunteering on a songbird research project. Described as “the coolest, most exciting, most inventive new voice I’ve heard in ages” (Musical America) and an “outright sensation” (LA Times), Gabriella’s music comes from a love of play, exploring new sounds on instruments, building compelling musical arcs, and connecting listeners with the natural world in an invitation to find joy in climate action. Recent highlights include the premiere of her organ concerto, Breathing Forests, written for James McVinnie and LA Phil, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen; performances of Tumblebird Contrails by San Francisco Symphony and Esa-Pekka Salonen, both at home and on their European tour; and the release of her first full-length album, Lost Coast, recorded in Iceland with cellist Gabriel Cabezas, named one of NPR Music’s “26 Favorite Albums Of 2021 (So Far)” and a “Classical Album to Hear Right Now” by The New York Times. Gabriel and Gabriella have since debuted a (cello-violin-voice-electronics) duo version of Lost Coast at the Philharmonie de Paris, and in May 2023 Gabriel premiered the cello concerto version of Lost Coast with LA Phil, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
Audrey Vardanega (Hertz Hall performer, Crowden School ’09)
Praised as a “[musically] eloquent” (San Francisco Classical Voice) player “with the kind of freedom, authority, and strength…that one expects from the world’s finest pianists” and a “bewitching musical presence” (The Piedmont Post), American pianist and arts entrepreneur Audrey Vardanega (b.1995) has performed as a solo and collaborative pianist across Europe, China, and the United States.
In response to her passion for bringing artists together for opportunities for performance, the creation of new work, and interdisciplinary collaboration, Audrey founded Musaics of the Bay in 2019. Musaics is a nonprofit chamber music series dedicated to connecting musicians, composers, and visual artists for collaborations, residency programs, mentorship, and the creation of new work in the Bay Area and beyond. From March 2020 to April 2021, Musaics of the Bay presented “The Stay-at-Home Symposium,” commissioning over 75 new works of music inspired by community-submitted artwork. The Symposium involved over 100 artists from around the world, including performers, composers, poets, filmmakers, painters, photographers, and more, for virtual collaboration.
Audrey, along with pianist/composer Christos Vayenas, is the co-founder and COO of Arium TV. She also serves as the Director of Operations for The Autumn Salon, an invite-only Salon series based in NYC and Boston. The Autumn Salon is devoted to bringing together world-class musicians with audiences in intimate settings. Audrey is passionate about providing emerging artists with opportunities to shape their own artistic careers by creating new communities and reimagining patronage.
Audrey made her debut as a soloist with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra at the age of 11 and her debut with the Midsummer Mozart Festival under the baton of the late Maestro George Cleve in 2010, 2012, and 2013, becoming the youngest soloist in the history of the festival. She made her solo recital debut at the age of 12 on the Bouchaine Young Artists Series with Festival Napa Valley in California. Audrey has also been interviewed and featured on various media outlets including KQED San Francisco, Berkeley’s “Piano” segment on KPFA 94.1, KALW San Francisco Local Public Radio, San Francisco’s Classical KDFC, the Hangzhou China Central TV Station, the San Francisco Classical Voice, and New York’s WWFM, among others. She has performed at the Hangzhou Grand Theater, The Lakes Area Music Festival in Brainerd, MN, Princeton University Concerts, The Tippet Rise Arts Center, Festival Napa Valley, the Zhejiang Conservatory of Music, the Teatro del Libertador San Martín in Córdoba, Argentina, The Ravinia Festival, Gordon Music Series in Tampa, FL, Matinee Musicale in Duluth, MN, The Santa Cruz Symphony, San Francisco’s Old First Concerts Series, San Francisco’s Herbst Theater, Musaics of the Bay, Festival del Sole Napa Valley, Rockefeller University’s Tri-Institutional Noon Concerts Series, the Valley of the Moon Music Festival, Santa Cruz’s “Distinguished Artists Concert and Lecture Series,” and more. Audrey won a Bay Area Audience Choice Award in August 2021 for her performance of Beethoven’s A Major Cello Sonata with cellist Tanya Tomkins and the Valley of the Moon Music Festival.
Audrey was born and raised in Oakland, California and began her piano studies at the age of six with Araks Aghazarian. She began formal piano training with Robert Schwartz at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music from 2002 to 2013 as well as formal composition training with Arkadi Serper at the Berkeley Crowden School from 2004 to 2013. Her past instructors include Seymour Lipkin, Jeremy Siepmann, Christopher Elton and Victor Rosenbaum. Audrey earned her B.A. in Political Science from Columbia University in May 2017 and received her Masters in Music in May 2019 from Mannes The New School under the tutelage of Richard Goode. When Audrey’s not playing piano or organizing concerts, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her shih-tzu and morkie, Romeo and Bear.