By Amalia P. Spagnolo
As the Olympic master of the four winds, the Greek god Aeolus could marshal them to impart great power and produce subtle shifts of atmosphere. Inspired by that energy and spirit, the four string performers of the Aeolus Quartet create stunning music in their own signature, innovative style.
The Myles Reif Performing Arts Center will present the quartet in concert at 7:30 p.m. on March 4 at the Davies Theater on the campus of Itasca Community College (ICC) in Grand Rapids.
They have been hailed as among the finest string quartets performing today. Its members are violinists Nicholas Tavani and Rachel Shapiro, violist Gregory Luce and cellist Alan Richardson. In 2008, the string musicians formed the Aeolus Quartet while attending the Cleveland Institute of Music. As the Aeolus Quartet, the instrumentalists studied with the Miró, Guarneri and Juilliard Quartets.
Their mentors include William Preucil, Peter Salaff, Donald Weilerstein, Itzhak Perlman, Gerhard Schulz and Mark Steinberg. Quartet members received degrees from the Peabody Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Texas at Austin, where Aeolus was the first graduate string quartet-in-residence. Presently, the Aeolus Quartet is the graduate string quartet at the Juilliard School in New York City.
In 2011, the Aeolus Quartet was a Grand Prizewinner of the Plowman Chamber Music Competition and Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition. It received first prize at the 2009 Coleman International Chamber Ensemble Competition, a silver medal at the 2011 Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition and a bronze medal at the 2010 International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition in New England. The group was named by the 16th Annual Austin Critics’ Table as the “Best Ensemble, 2010-2011.”
The Quartet has performed across North America, Europe and Asia in venues such as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Reinberger Recital Hall at Severance Hall, Merkin Hall, the Library of Congress, Renwick Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center. The Aeolus Quartet’s 2013-2014 season includes multiple performances on the Smithsonian Institute’s rare instrument collection, an educational tour of the Midwest in conjunction with the Fischoff Competition and concert touring throughout the United States, with residencies in North Carolina and at the Austin Chamber Music Center’s Summer Festival.
Reif Center Marketing Director Katie Benes expressed enthusiasm about the ensemble’s upcoming visit to the Grand Rapids area.
“I’m excited about them,” she said, noting, “They seem like a young, really bright group of amazing musicians.” Benes referred to Aeolus’ Juilliard fellowship as “a huge building block to really building a successful career.”
The Aeolus Quartet has earned a reputation for being innovative.
“It’s very exciting to have that fresh take on a classical and very traditional style of music,” said Benes. “Certainly, they play a wide range of repertoire in the program, but they are known for (the musical element of) dissonance.”
Recordings and albums by the Aeolus Quartet of classical and contemporary works were produced by the Longhorn/Naxos label.
Doors at the ICC’s theater open at 7 p.m. Tickets are each $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for youth. The program is supported by ICC, Metro Sales and Swanson Law Office. For additional information, log onto www.reifcenter.org.