Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ask a Serafin! A Q&A preview of the 2016-2017 Season

Welcome to Ask a Serafin! - where you'll hear personal perspectives on all things SSQ. The first Q&A article will preview SSQ's 2016-2017 season. 

Do you have a question you would like answered by a Serafin? Send us a message on Facebook and look for an answer in the next enews.

Question: What are some of the highlights of SSQ's programming this season?

Answer by Kate: It is all great repertoire this year, as usual. We are balancing large pieces like the brilliant and exuberant Mendelssohn D Major, the dramatic Dvorak G Major Op. 106, and Beethoven's masterful Op. 59#3 with classical fare from Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven. We complete the programs with less often played selections by Shostakovich, Puccini and Wolf. Focusing on more traditional fare is warm and friendly for the audiences this year. And a great way for us, as a quartet with a new member, to reestablish and further develop our sound and our style for each composer.

Question: Is there a piece this year that especially captures your interest - and why?
Answer by Sheila: I am thrilled to finally play Dvorak's String Quartet in G Major, Op.106 at my first concert with SSQ on October 1 at The Arts at Trinity! The piece is an imaginative and beautiful work, and quite difficult, as the compositional writing is very complicated. This summer, I had the pleasure of performing and teaching in Prague, the capital city of Dvorak's home country, at the first Karen Tuttle viola workshop in Europe. Now, I can vividly picture the beautiful Czech countryside, where I walked for hours, eating my way down Bohemian country lanes - wild raspberries, all kinds of country apples, crab apples, cherries, little plums - golden, purple, and crimson - heavenly!

Question: SSQ collaborates with other terrific artists  - who is on tap this year?
Answer by Larry: We've have several great collaborations on the schedule this season. We're playing the Brahms Piano Quintet with Julie Nishimura in March, for our spring concert as Quartet in Residence at the University of Delaware. This is significant, not only in that it's SSQ's first performance of the work, but that it's Julie's last year as Collaborative Piano faculty at UD, and we wanted to honor her amazing work over the years with one of the greatest chamber works ever written. We're also excited to collaborate with wonderful artists on a program at The Music School of Delaware on October 26: the excellent young pianist Jennifer Nicole Campbell, who will join us in the Schumann Piano Quartet, and our good friends Nina Cottman, viola, and Jennifer Crowell Stomberg, cello, joining SSQ for the grand Brahms G Major Sextet (and yes, Jennifer and I are related - in addition to being an outstanding cellist, she has the dubious distinction of being my wife). In May, we will perform the Dvorak Quintet with acclaimed pianist Hugh Sung at The Arts at Trinity.
Question: How does SSQ choose what repertoire will be performed each season?
Answer by Lisa: We all come to the table with works we haven't played, and would love to explore, as well as the tried and true, which we would like to revisit. It is vital for a quartet to have a repertoire, so bringing works back is not just recycling. It is more like taking in a favorite painting again, after stepping away to study more of its predecessors and followers.  The eye looks with an entirely different perspective. This is key to how we grow as a group-- not to mention, there are quite a few works out there that will NEVER get old as long as we play them. Sometimes works come to us because of people we know, such as our collaboration with Julia Adolphe, which led to SSQ premiering two of her quartets last spring at Weill Hall. It was a wonderful time getting to know Adolphe's language, and especially learning quartets that were entirely new to all of us. I love that process, and I'm always a fan of exploring the unknown.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

10 Interesting Facts about SSQ's New Violist Sheila Browne!

SSQ is thrilled to have critically acclaimed violist, Sheila Browne, join the Quartet! Here are some interesting facts about SSQ's newest member:
  1. Sheila has the great honor of being named the William Primrose Memorial Recitalist of 2016. 
  2. She is a dual citizen of the United States and Ireland. And yes, the red hair is natural!
  3. Sheila recently traveled to Eagle's Nest, Alaska to perform with the Highland Mountain Correctional Facility Women's Orchestra. The orchestra's viola section presented Sheila with a handmade viola dreamcatcher.
  4. She has been featured in two books - UPBEAT, the story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, and The Musician's Way, - as well as in the PBS documentary, Beethoven Alive!.
  5. On her "farmette" in North Carolina, Sheila had a pet Vietnamese potbelly mini-pig namedCosmo. She also had Nigerian dwarf goats, Paisley and Parsnip, free-ranging heritage chickens, and rescue husky mixes Rosy and Tilda.
  6. In the 8th grade, Sheila traveled to China as the youngest member of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. She has performed on five continents.
  7. Sheila played a concerto in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium with the New York Women's Ensemble.
  8. She has studied with two of the world's greatest violists and pedagogues - Karen Tuttle (at the Juilliard School), and Kim Kashkashian (in Freiburg, Germany).
  9. Sheila helped hitch up a dog sledding team in minus 20° F temperatures outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.
  10. She has performed on the David-Letterman show with Aretha Franklin (Puccini arias!), Good Morning America at Lincoln Center with Barry Manilow, and recorded with the Fire Pink Trio, Carol Wincenc, Audra MacDonald, Paula Cole, Lisa Loeb, among others.
The Serafin's first public concert with Sheila Browne will be Saturday, October 1st at 7:30pm - opening The Arts at Trinity's season.