Always Room for (Four) More

10.17.14
Calidore String Quartet
The New York Times

Calidore String Quartet to Make Stony Brook University Its Home
By Jane L. Levere  

Not all 20-somethings want to play in rock bands. Some prefer the quartet route. Not that success for young classical musicians comes more easily; it always helps to have a support network. To this end, Stony Brook University has invited the Calidore String Quartet, a chamber music group that was formed at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles in 2010, to be artists-in-residence and visiting faculty through the end of the 2015-16 academic year, giving the young musicians a home base to hone their craft and teach others to do the same. The school has a solid track record of supporting chamber music through its residency program. The world-renowned Emerson String Quartethas been the university’s quartet-in-residence since 2002.?

 “It seemed absurd to me since we had the Emerson, who were master teachers at the apex of the quartet world, that we not have a young group in residence to be mentored by the Emerson,” said Gilbert Kalish, a professor of piano and director of performance activities at Stony Brook’s department of music, who was instrumental in establishing the Emerson’s residency. “It would enhance the school’s reputation and enrich the music life of America.” The Emerson will continue to coach and teach mostly graduate students, while also mentoring the Calidore musicians. The younger quartet will in turn coach and teach undergraduates and participate in community outreach programs. Calidore members seem to be on board. “We’re a young string quartet embarking on the beginning of our career,” said Jeremy Berry, 28, the violist for the group. “The Emerson String Quartet has had one of the most illustrious careers of any quartet in the history of music. We are very excited to receive guidance from them.”  He also emphasized the significance of looking forward, saying, “It is very important to us to be encouraging younger people to pick up instruments and play, and to educate the audience of the future.” Mr. Kalish said that he became acquainted with the Calidore at the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada, where they were doing a residency in 2013, finding them to be “a mature young group on the cusp of a real professional career.” His Stony Brook colleague, David Finckel, a former Emerson cellist who is also co-artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, agreed, telling him that he “thought they were first-rate and that it would be great to have them” at the school, Mr. Kalish recalled. With financial support from the Staller family (who endowed Stony Brook’sStaller Center for the Arts), the four members of the Calidore will have time to do local outreach, something the Emerson, a winner of nine Grammy Awards, is unable to do because of its global travel commitments, said Philip Setzer, a professor of violin at Stony Brook and a founding member of the Emerson. Mr. Setzer said this was a wonderful and very unusual opportunity for young, professional musicians. “The kind of program the Calidore is doing didn’t exist for us. From the time we left school to start our career, there was no place to go in the beginning, to work intensively with an established group,” he said. “They will come in as a new group to this with a lot of energy and commitment.” As for the Emerson String Quartet, its commitment to local performances in between international engagements is steadfast: It will perform three concerts at the Staller Center during the 2014-15 season, the first on Oct. 24. The program will feature selections from Bach’s “Art of Fugue” and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major with Grosse Fuge. The concert is sold out, but last-minute tickets could be available. The quartet will perform again on Feb. 3 and April 14, 2015, while members also will play in and coach student ensembles during the Spring Chamber Music Festival, May 6 to 9. The Calidore will perform Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat Major with Christina Dahl, a faculty pianist, on Nov. 19. Other performances include one by the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra, whose members are graduate students, on Feb. 21, to be conducted by Paul Watkins (Mr. Finckel’s successor with the Emerson), and a concert featuring Mr. Watkins, Mr. Kalish and other faculty playing the Brahms Piano Quintet in F Minor on March 13. Concertgoers no doubt will agree with Mr. Setzer, who said that people love chamber music because of “the intimacy, that you can identify with the individuals.”Judging from the number of individuals teaching and performing at Stony Brook this year, chamber music enthusiasts should have a rich experience in store. Perry Goldstein, chairman of the music department, seems to concur: “To have two fine string quartets, young and more established, as examples of the highest form of chamber-music playing is a great boon to our students.”