Feb. 27, 2012 — The Alexander String Quartet with guest artist Alec Chien will perform a free concert at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, in Ford Memorial Chapel at Allegheny College.
The ASQ will play Haydn’s String Quartet, Op. 76, No. 3 and Beethoven’s String Quartet, Op. 95. Chien will join the quartet to play Schumann’s Quintet for Piano and Strings, Op. 44.
Members of the quartet are violinists Zakarias Grafilo and Frederick Lifsitz, violist Paul Yarbrough and cellist Sandy Wilson. Pianist Alec Chien is professor of music and artist-in-residence at Allegheny College.
The ASQ has performed in major music capitals on five continents, securing its standing among the world’s premier ensembles over nearly three decades. Widely admired for its interpretations of Beethoven, Mozart and Shostakovich, the quartet has also established itself as an important advocate of new music through over 25 commissions and numerous premiere performances.
Interdisciplinary residencies for institutions of higher learning and their communities have earned the ensemble international renown for contributions to education and audience development. During its annual residency at Allegheny, March 5-8, the quartet will visit classes across the academic disciplines, including classes not only in music but also in psychology, acting, English, neuroscience and dance.
The ASQ is also reaching out to a younger audience during its time in Meadville. Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from the First District Elementary School will be attending an ASQ presentation in Ford Chapel earlier in the day.
In 1999, to tremendous critical acclaim, BMG Classics released the quartet’s nine-CD set of the Beethoven cycle on its Arte Nova label. The Foghorn Classics label released a three-CD set of the Mozart quartets dedicated to Haydn in 2004. Foghorn released a six-CD set of the complete Shostakovich quartets in 2006 and 2007, and a recording of the complete quartets of Pulitzer prize-winning composer Wayne Peterson was released in the spring of 2008. In addition, a new recording of the ASQ’s performance of the Beethoven cycle was released in June 2009.
The quartet’s three newest releases on Foghorn Classics this spring include works by Brahms, Gershwin, Kern and Beethoven, as well as new commissions from Paul Chihara, Veronika Krausas and Michael Gandolfi.
The quartet’s annual calendar of concerts includes engagements at major halls throughout North America and Europe. They have appeared at Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, Jordan Hall in Boston, the Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, and chamber music societies and universities across North America.
Alec Chien received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctor of musical arts degrees from the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied under Adele Marcus. Grand Prize Winner of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition and prize winner of the Sydney International Piano Competition, the Paloma O’Shea International Piano Competition and the Affiliate Artists Xerox Piano Program, he has performed in solo and chamber recitals and as soloist with orchestras on four continents.
Among the major symphony orchestras that have featured him as soloist are the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Utah Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony, American Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic.
In 1988 Chien was one of 25 Steinway artists to perform at the gala concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City to celebrate the piano company’s 135th anniversary as well as its 500,000th piano.
He also actively performs in chamber music, having appeared with members of the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as with the Alexander String Quartet, the Cavani String Quartet and the Ariel Woodwinds Quintet.
Honored in 1986 as Meadville’s “adopted native son,” Chien has brought his music to the Crawford County school districts, performing and speaking to students in both the high schools and elementary schools. His recitals have also been part of the bicentennial celebrations of the cities of Meadville and Erie.
In 2011 Chien began an eight-concert series focusing on the major works of Franz Schubert and Frederic Chopin. Chien will give two concerts each academic year, in September and in March, with the final concert offered in 2015, when Allegheny will celebrate its bicentennial. The second concert is scheduled for Saturday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium.