On Saturday, February 15, 2020, at 7:30 pm, the Jupiter String Quartet, quartet-in-residence at the University of Illinois, is featured on the Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s WVIK/QCSO Signature Series. This season, the Jupiter Quartet celebrates Beethoven’s 250th birthday year by pairing his quartets with some of the great composers who surrounded him over the last 250 years.
For this program, the Jupiter Quartet joins Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat, Op.127 with Mozart’s inventive String Quartet in A Major, K. 464. The quartet will also perform Kati Agócs’ Imprimatur (2018), composed for the Jupiter Quartet in celebration of its 15th anniversary. Imprimatur was co-commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Harvard Musical Association, and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Imprimatur (2018) explores an outgoing, festal transformation process in which a single musical idea “imprints itself upon the memory through rapturous re-imagination,” according to Agócs. The Boston Globe has praised Agócs’ music for its elegance, citing “music of fluidity and austere beauty” with “a visceral intensity of expression” and encouraging audience members to “go, listen, and be changed.” A recent Guggenheim Fellow, Agócs is also a winner of the prestigious Arts and Letters Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters and a 2017 Juno Award nomination for Classical Composition of the Year.
The Jupiter String Quartet is a particularly intimate group, consisting of violinists Nelson Lee and Meg Freivogel, violist Liz Freivogel (Meg’s older sister), and cellist Daniel McDonough (Meg’s husband, Liz’s brother-in-law). Now enjoying their 17th year together, this tight-knit ensemble is firmly established as an important voice in the world of chamber music. The New Yorker claims, “The Jupiter String Quartet, an ensemble of eloquent intensity, has matured into one of the mainstays of the American chamber-music scene.”
The quartet has performed in some of the world’s finest halls, including New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and Library of Congress, Austria’s Esterhazy Palace, and Seoul’s Sejong Chamber Hall. Their major music festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival and School, Bowdoin Music Festival, Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Rockport Music Festival, the Banff Centre, Virginia Arts Festival, Music at Menlo, Maverick Concerts, Caramoor International Music Festival, Lanaudiere Festival, West Cork (Ireland) Chamber Music Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Madeline Island Music Festival, Yellow Barn Festival, Encore Chamber Music Festival, the inaugural Chamber Music Athens, and the Seoul Spring Festival, among others. In addition to their performing career, they have been artists-in-residence at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana since 2012, where they maintain private studios and direct the chamber music program.
Their chamber music honors and awards include the grand prizes in the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; the Young Concert Artists International auditions in New York City; the Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America; an Avery Fisher Career Grant; and a grant from the Fromm Foundation. From 2007-2010, they were in residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two.
The Jupiter String Quartet feels a particular connection to the core string quartet repertoire; they have presented the complete Bartok and Beethoven string quartets on numerous occasions. Also strongly committed to new music, they have commissioned works by Syd Hodkinson, Hannah Lash, Dan Visconti, Mark Adamo, Pierre Jalbert, and Kati Agócs.
The quartet’s latest album Alchemy (Marquis Classics, 2019) with Australian pianist Bernadette Harvey features world premiere recordings by Pierre Jalbert, Steven Stucky, and Carl Vine. EarRelevant proclaims, “Performed with great sensitivity and attention to detail, this album marks an important addition to the recorded repertory of new chamber music.” The quartet’s discography also includes numerous recordings on labels including Azica Records, Marquis Classics, and Deutsche Grammophon.
The Jupiters place a strong emphasis on developing relationships with future classical music audiences through educational performances in schools and other community centers. They believe that, because of the intensity of its interplay and communication, chamber music is one of the most effective ways of spreading enthusiasm for “classical” music to new audiences. The quartet has also held numerous masterclasses for young musicians at Northwestern University, Eastman School of Music, the Aspen Music Festival, Encore Chamber Festival, Madeline Island Music Festival, and Peabody Conservatory.
The quartet chose its name because Jupiter was the most prominent planet in the night sky at the time of its formation and the astrological symbol for Jupiter resembles the number four. They are also proud to list among their accomplishments in recent years the addition of seven quartet children: Pablo, Lillian, Clara, Dominic, Felix, Oliver, and Joelle. You may spot some of these miniature Jupiters in the audience or tagging along to rehearsals, along with their grandparent babysitters.
WVIK/QCSO Signature Series III: Jupiter Quartet
Saturday, February 15, 2020 | 7:30 PM
Centennial Hall, 3703 7th Ave. Rock Island, IL
$18 – $65 Adults each | $10 – $33 Students each
Tickets can be purchased online at QCSO.org, by phone at 563.322.7276, and in-person at the QCSO Box Office located at 327 Brady Street in Davenport.