The School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts welcomes the renowned Brooklyn Rider as the 2018-19 resident artists for the Visiting Quartet Residency Program. The group will visit Arizona State University three times as part of this year’s residency program, which fosters collaboration and diversity.
“Brooklyn Rider is one of the most engaging and diverse quartets of our time,” said Jonathan Swartz, professor of violin in the School of Music and artistic director of the program. “The range of their interests is incredible, spanning across genres of music — they play the great masters like Mozart, Beethoven and Ravel as well as anyone in the profession and, at the same time, they are engaged in new music: performing composers of our time and writing their own music.”
The quartet, hailed as “the future of chamber music” by Strings magazine, was founded in 2005. Members include Johnny Gandelsman, violin; Colin Jacobsen, violin; Nicholas Cords, viola; and Michael Nicolas, cello.
The quartet’s first visit includes a world-premiere performance of a new piece by composer Matana Roberts. The work was commissioned for Brooklyn Rider as part of the quartet’s new project, "Healing Modes," which explores Robert’s perspective on healing and music. The collaborative second visit with Irish fiddler Martin Hayes connects two different styles of music and explores Irish music and folk traditions. The final visit brings the quartet and Mexican vocal jazz singer Magos Herrera together and includes a little bit of classical music, a little bit of jazz and a little bit of Latin-American influence.
Swartz started the Visiting Quartet Residency program 13 years ago to engage world-renowned quartets to serve in residence for one year at a time in the School of Music strings program. Unique among music schools nationwide, the program’s resident artists work intensively with students on projects designed to form the basis of the chamber music curriculum.
The opportunity to study with a professional ensemble allows students to see the collaborative process from the inside out — including the way the quartet communicates, rehearses, performs, manages and prioritizes its schedule.
“Students witness extraordinary music-making and feel the power of what can be achieved when everyone contributes a 100 percent effort,” said Nancy Buck, associate professor in the School of Music strings program. “They see how chamber music is not about following, but rather leading.”
Over a four-year period, students work with four different professional string quartets and on three projects each year for a total of 12 projects as part of a comprehensive chamber music curriculum.
Students also engage with the community through the creation and performance of new music. Each year, ASU composition students visit the Phoenix Art Museum and select a work of art as inspiration to write new music for string ensembles. The visiting quartet workshops the new pieces with the student composers, culminating in world-premiere performances by School of Music string students at the museum — in the galleries with the artwork that inspired the composition.
The largest project in the program invites more than 1,000 high school students to ASU annually to hear the visiting quartet perform, hear ASU students perform alongside the quartet, participate in discussions and learn the history of and traditions about the music.
At the completion of the projects, students also share what they have learned by performing at Mayo Clinic as part of a collaboration to support the clinic’s mission for humanities in medicine.
The residency program also engages the Tetra String Quartet, a local string quartet composed of School of Music alumni, to assist with presentations for visiting high school students and to visit high schools and work directly with students prior to the annual performance.
Jill Osborne, strings teacher at Tempe High School, said her students have participated in workshops with Tetra for four years.
“The students have said the program has inspired them to want to practice more, hear more concerts and attend more concerts,” said Osborne. “There’s definitely an impact on the Tempe High strings program in the last four years — our program has grown at least 400 percent. I believe a large part of our growth is because the students are so inspired by the ASU performances.”
Swartz said the program is a benefit to the community by providing a unique opportunity to learn about each quartet with three featured concerts throughout the year.
“I think there is an incredible impact that these artists have on our individual students, our school and our community,” said Swartz.
Brooklyn Rider’s performances are in Katzin Concert Hall on ASU’s Tempe campus. Purchase tickets from the Herberger Institute box office.
Brooklyn Rider String Quartet
7:30 p.m. Nov. 2
Brooklyn Rider String Quartet with Martin Hayes
7:30 p.m. Jan. 31
Brooklyn Rider String Quartet with Magos Herrera
7:30 p.m. March 21