Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I have new respect for people whose work requires them to stare at a computer for hours on end. To be fair, I've only really been at this for one hour max, but that's a lot for me - come on, I'm a musician! Among my assigned duties from the last Aeolus Summit (business meeting/pizza party, held most Wednesday evenings, feel free to drop by) was the task of adding all of our concerts for the 2010-2011 season to the calendar on our website. I've barely made a dent, and I'm already taking a break :( but kudos to Nick for compiling all the concert info in the first place!

I'm learning a lot about us through this process, actually. As in, that we are playing the same program 3 days in a row in Austin in November? I hope there are enough people in this city that want to hear Schumann Piano Quintet and Bartok 4! But we are playing those concerts with the fabulous pianist Rick Rowley, so that should help. I also discovered that we are spending 4 days in a hotel in Times Square for the Chamber Music America conference, and we're giving a recital there!! Through the determination, willpower, and grant-writing skills of the amazing Kathryn Hutchison, we (via UT) are the fortunate recipients of $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts for the performance of American music. We just saw a copy of the grant proposal, and it is actually approx. 7 million pages long. This grant secured the NY performance, among others... about which I'm sure I would learn more, if I could only convince myself to finish updating this thing.

But more awesome things about the grant - we will be releasing a CD on the Longhorn label distributed by Naxos in the spring! All American works, and hopefully this recording process will be less grueling than the one we experienced last February. Although we certainly had the very best technical and moral support from our family at the Butler School of Music, which made the process that much more bearable! And thankfully that project has finally come to fruition - last week we had a 9 hour stint in the mastering studio preparing our Feb recording of Brahms c minor and Bartok 5 for release on Longhorn/Naxos at the end of October! With beautiful album artwork by the one and only Nathan Russell :)

Anyway, next time you click on one of those little black calendar boxes on our schedule page, that say basically the same thing as the full concert listing to the left, but in a possibly more visually stimulating format, please remember the sweat and tears that went into the operation. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, we love you!

(I just rediscovered this photo, I think it's from my surprise birthday party back in our Cleveland days. Obviously not much has changed in this ensemble)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Perlman Music Paradise

So after one amazing and exhausting summer, we are back in Austin, TX! Well except for Greg, he's in Finland, but that's another story... the three of us here in the Lone Star State are enjoying our first real quartet break of the summer by seeing old friends, going to the beach (Alan), wakeboarding (me??), frantically completing quartet applications (Nick), and reminiscing about the incredible experiences we've had in the past couple months.

Our two weeks on Shelter Island, NY at the Perlman Music Program were the perfect way to wrap up the summer. Imagine your favorite childhood summer camp, including cookouts, bonfires on the beach, and pickup soccer games, and add to it an artist faculty of some of the most beloved musicians performing today. And the "campers" are all dedicated chamber musicians in their twenties/thirties. This uniquely supportive and inspiring atmosphere led to plenty of recreational late night chamber music reading with new friends and the faculty even after countless hours of rehearsal with our main groups. It also led to several more surprising collaborative endeavors - like the time Don Weilerstein schooled EVERYONE in basketball at the Perlmans' house. Which just goes to show that if you've mastered your coordination and timing enough to be the first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet, everything after that is cake :) Another fond memory from the Perlmans' house would be Mr. P himself manning the computer, taking us on a guided Youtube tour of Horowitz, Kreisler, Ella Fitzgerald... and this kid -

We were lucky enough to work specifically with Itzhak Perlman and Don Weilerstein during our stay at PMP. Mr. P was exacting in what he wanted, and hilarious in the way he explained it to us. Early on he recounted the story of a cruel teacher who once belittled his student by saying, "Every day you sound worse. So why today do you sound like the day after tomorrow?" From this point forth, Mr. P endeavored to assess our progress (or lack thereof) by gleefully announcing "this sounds like next Friday" or, if we were fortunate, "that could have been yesterday."

Mr. Weilerstein's description of sound production and sympathetic vibration, and the necessity of awareness of sound through our bodies (including the all-important sitbones), completely revolutionized the way we played the second movement of Beethoven 18/1.

And in perhaps the best news of the summer, PMP had its own private beach. And dock.

This is the other best news of the summer. The incredible Toby Perlman, who created PMP through her vision of bringing together like-minded young musicians in a safe and supportive environment. What they are keeping us safe from, I have no idea, but we love it and we're not complaining...

Ok and this is beyond the best. Merry Peckham, founder of the Chamber Music Workshop at PMP, and our mentor and inspiration from our days back in Cleveland!

Another highlight of the program was a series of concerts called Tutti Suonare. For a couple hours every day in the first week, we got a break from our regular quartet members and rehearsed with groups comprised of a random mix of players, each including one faculty artist. I performed the first movement of the Dvorak piano quintet with the wonderful Roger Tapping (and Christel, Yundu, and Karen!!!)

A view of PMP from the beach. I told you it looks like summer camp...

Among the many friends we made at PMP were the fabulous Ariel Quartet. We have 3/4 of them here, I don't know where Serge is, but check them out if you ever have the chance! Also check out the Linden, Vinca, and Bryant Park Quartets. They all rock.

Everything we've been hauling around since June. Packing credit to Alan.

Wow this is a long post. Thanks for reading and checking in with us :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What I did this summer

Many of you possibly don't know it, but Nick is the one who did 90% of the work on our webpage. If you ask him about it he'll say that it was a joint effort, but really most of it is to his credit, and I think it looks pretty good. It was the product of many, many sleepless nights on his own part in Aspen last summer, and at the end of most of those nights all he had to show for it was some empty bags of Boulder Canyon potato chips.

He slugged through it, though, and we're very happy he did. The other 10% of the webpage credit goes to me, but for the most part all I can do at this point is some updating and repair work - all that we really need a second tech-savvy person to do, I suppose. I did develop a new respect for Nick's patience with Photoshop and Dreamweaver as I tried desperately to update our homepage to reflect our temporary personnel change over the summer. Here is the fruit of my labor.

Not bad. Despite my best efforts, though, I couldn't find a way to get her head to go black and white like the rest of ours. There are a lot of fancy buttons in Photoshop, but the one very simple button I had trouble finding was the "Turn thingie black and white" button. Three months of searching just wasn't enough to find it.

I never drew up the courage to put that on the homepage of our website - in your head you get the idea that the second you do something like that, some concert presenter will log on in blatant witness to your brazen lack of professionalism.

Playing with Michelle was wonderful, but it's also very good to have you back, Nick. Do show me that button when you get a chance.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bravo Valley Snow Day :D

I guess it's really just a snow afternoon, but we'll take it! Our duties as the young artist quartet for Bravo have come to an end, and today marks our first day of rehearsal for baroque ensembles... and by "our" I'm referring mostly to Michelle and myself, while Alan and Greg sleep in (cello parts can't easily be doubled, and let's be honest who really wrote for viola in the 17th century??) But we just received word that the wonderful people in the Bravo office have decided to cancel all rehearsing activity this afternoon, mostly because our soloist Chee-Yun is stuck in Paris for the second time - don't fly Air France - and so here I am to post lots of pictures!

and this is actually exactly where I am right now. On the patio of Michelle's and my condo :) which we are not excited about leaving on Wednesday.

Allow me to take you on a little tour of the inside also - our rehearsal space (we don't normally share just one stand between the four of us, I'm not sure what happened here)

an outdoor performance in Leadville, hiding from the elements under our massive tent. Note the tip jar - we don't get to keep that. Also the little girl on the right felt so inclined as to conduct us for Mendelssohn and Beethoven - adorable :)

still Leadville. Mt. Elbert is behind that antique store... Alan and I took a beating there on our first hike of the season (see below)

and we're not even at the summit yet.

but now we are! And we brought Bravo with us all the way up the tallest mountain in Colorado :)

More mountain pictures, because I love mountains. Up next are the twin 14ers Grays and Torreys -
not at all a necessary part of the trail, but I couldn't help it

9 AM on the summit of Grays Peak. Cowering behind a makeshift wind barrier...


freezing on top of Torreys, pointing out Grays using a borrowed sign from a heavily bundled up Japanese team. They were obviously more prepared for the weather up there than we were. When packing one suitcase for the entire summer, it comes down to concert clothes versus hiking layers. Guess which won out. But back to musical things -

around 11:30 PM in a conference room at the hotel where half of the Philadelphia Orchestra stayed. We read through a huge stack of chamber music that night, rotating players except for Alan. He was the only cellist for 3 hours... haha. I studied with Yayoi, who's peeking over Noah in the pink shirt, since I was 9!

performing in the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. An artistic shot inside the quartet by Nate, an intern with Bravo.

Greg makes tuning a viola look good. Photo courtesy of Nate, again.

after a concert at the incredible Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, with the even more incredible Eugenia Zukerman, artistic director of Bravo. We could certainly get used to warm-up rooms that are actually private hotel suites complete with platters of fresh fruit and charcuterie - thank you Cordillera (and Bravo!) We also had the honor of performing flute quintets/quartets with Eugenia yesterday - so much fun!

Time to go hang out in the hot tub, but I'll leave you with the ever fashionable Mr. and Mrs. Luce :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Carnegie! (and one from Norway)

A few pictures from way back in May in New York. Nick has more, I promise.

Getting lost in the backstage maze at Carnegie

Weill Recital Hall... with piano tuner :)

Alan and his seatmate on their way back to Austin

aaand this has nothing to do with New York, but I found it on my camera and had to share. Here is a classic photo of Greg and our friend Live from the Nordica Quartet hanging out backstage in Norway, trying their hands at new instruments.

Monday, July 12, 2010

High Altitude

I have to be honest, I am actually writing from Vail, CO. I realize my last post may have implied that an update would be coming live from Stanford University, but here's the deal - the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar kept us so busy rehearsing, coaching, singing (yes, singing) and generally being elevated to a higher artistic plane that there was simply no time. BUT we do have some news - if any of you have seen us perform in the last month, you may have noticed Nick looks slightly different. A little more Korean, a little more like a girl...

introducing Michelle!

Don't worry, Nick will actually be back with us and better than ever in less than a month. Until then, Michelle has absolutely saved the day - called at the last minute, coerced by the ever persuasive Aeolus Quartet over drinks in New York City, she most likely had no idea what she was signing on to this summer... poor girl. But she has dealt with all our insanity with grace and humor, and we've been having a blast making music with her. By the way, Michelle is totally legit: working on her DMA at Indiana University, juggling a full teaching and performance load, she has also performed string quartets underwater in Korea (we couldn't believe it either) in full scuba regalia. She has fit in just fine with us :) here is a tiny representation of Greg serenading her on the lawn at Stanford:

Also, if you are anywhere remotely near the west coast, please check out our amazing friends the Hausmann Quartet! Alan, Michelle, and I crashed with Isaac and Angela of Haus for a few days in San Francisco after SLSQ, and we had the best time. 1 AM tacos at Cancun, Kingdom of Dumpling, Hot Cookies... I could go on and on, and that's just about the food..

And so here we are in Vail! It's been incredible. Arriving late last Thursday, we set foot in our lavish condos and immediately knew we were in for a different kind of experience at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Performing every day and hot tubbing at night with friends in the Philadelphia Orchestra (which is in residence here for the next week) is not so bad. This festival also has one of the best administrative teams we've encountered yet - which means all we have to do is not get lost en route to the concert venue, and play. This is the life :) more to come soon!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New York, Seattle, Topeka and more!

This past month has been a whirlwind. Most importantly, though, Nick is now a married man!!!

All the very best to this amazing couple, and of course the other 3/4 of the quartet would like especially to wish Lexi good luck in this next chapter of her life! We've already been married to Nick for about 4 years, we know how it is. Just kidding, Nick... :)

So before Nick jetted off to Seattle to get married, we squeezed in one more little performance in none other than Carnegie Hall! Performing Bartok 5 on the stage of the Weill Recital Hall was unforgettable, and pictures will be forthcoming. A few days after, the remainder of the quartet arrived in Seattle to help with wedding preparations/ provide embarrassing stories about Nick for the entertainment of his family. The ceremony was beautiful, resplendent with musical selections befitting the marriage of a quartet violinist and a composer - Lexi walked down the aisle to Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man - if you were not lucky enough to be there, let your imagination wander...

After a couple days back in Austin to catch our breath, we piled into the car and drove 12 hours to Topeka, KS for the Sunflower Music Festival! This festival has an absolutely incredible following in the community - the hall was filled to capacity for every performance! We got a lot of good work done on Beethoven Op. 18 No. 1, and had a blast performing it on Tuesday night. Knowing that we were right smack in the middle of Tornado Alley, we even had a quartet viewing of Twister to get in the mood, and we weren't disappointed; the tornado sirens went off on campus during a thunderstorm! Thinking we were making a big deal out of nothing, our quartet went to bed, only to learn the next morning that the entire faculty and the rest of our floor had been ushered down to a fall out shelter during the night! Apparently everyone thought we were out. I don't know where they got that idea, the Æolus Quartet has a strict 9 PM bedtime... ;)

Thanks for taking the time to catch up with us! Next post will be from Palo Alto, CA!!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hanging out with the Brentano Quartet.. no big deal...

Last weekend, we had the excellent fortune to be in Reading, PA (Rachel's hometown) at the same time as the Brentano Quartet! Not only did we get to hear them play some amazing concerts on the Friends of Chamber Music of Reading series - their Schubert G Major was jaw-dropping - we got to spend some quality time talking over the finer points of the quartet lifestyle. We especially had Nina Maria Lee captive, along with her husband Windsor, and their adorable daughter Anouk, as the three of them were staying at Rachel's house... along with the entire Æolus Quartet... and of course a few of our pals from the Philadelphia area dropped by too. Needless to say, floor space was prime real estate. 3 air mattresses, 2 couches, and all the beds in the house!

Mark, Nina, Drs. Tom Souders and Neil Hoffman (FOCM,) Serena, and Misha

Sightreading Schubert Cello Quintet with Nina!!! Even after performing two full programs with her quartet, she was still game to read with us :)

Anouk appears ambivalent about the prospects of a career in music... although we have been told she plays a mean cardboard violin.

Another round of amusing Alan and Rachel through the mail slot. All in a hard day's work.

With our dear friends Carlos and Ayane! CIM '09

Mother and daughter :)

Carlos doing all the grunt work for our Sunday brunch.

Ellen and John Shapiro! The merry hosts :)

Windsor and Anouk utilizing one of the eight bubble blowers provided for them at the Shapiro house.

Monday, May 24, 2010

In the Big Apple!

First off - thank you for dropping by our blog! You may have noticed our introductory video below. What was originally intended to be an assignment for Career Development seems to have taken on a life of its own :)

So we just wrapped up a week in New York at the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar! We had the incredible fortune to work with Joel Krosnick and Ron Copes of the Juilliard String Quartet for 3 hours a day, in addition to the delight of sharing one tiny hotel room among the 4 of us!! The musical experience certainly outshone the tight accommodations, however, and we will not soon forget the insightful coachings and hilarious stories shared with us by the JSQ.

It's almost as if our sound improved simply by having Mr. Krosnick stand up and wander into the middle of our quartet, gesticulating at the score and looking at each of us with twinkling eyes. Of course his advice on bow distribution and sound production also helped. And Mr. Copes' philosophical musicality, along with lessons on avoiding "splices" and unnatural dynamic progressions, left us with a lot to think about... including the fact that the Finale of any piece shall henceforth be referred to as "Fine Ale" - thank you for that and more, JSQ!