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Aeolus Quartet

New York, NY         

Praised by Strad Magazine for their “high-octane” performance, the Aeolus Quartet is among the finest young string quartets performing today. Violinists Nicholas Tavani and Rachel Shapiro, violist Gregory Luce, and cellist Alan Richardson formed the Aeolus Quartet in 2008 at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Since its inception, the all-American quartet has been awarded prizes at nearly every major competition in the United States and performed across the globe with showings “worthy of a major-league quartet” (Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News). Luke Quinton of the Austin-American Statesman writes, “The Aeolus Quartet is a powerful and thoughtful group of young musicians who are plotting an ascending course…this vibrant group shows great promise.” They are currently the Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School.

The Aeolus Quartet are Grand Prizewinners of the 2011 Plowman Chamber Music Competition and 2011 Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition. They were awarded 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 16th Annual Austin Critics’ Table named the Aeolus Quartet their 2010-2011 “Best Ensemble.” The Aeolus Quartet has released two critically acclaimed albums of classical and contemporary works through the Longhorn/Naxos label which are available on iTunes, Amazon, and major retailers worldwide.

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.

Dedicated to bringing music into the community, the Aeolus Quartet has been widely recognized for their highly innovative and engaging outreach programs. The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association awarded the Aeolus their 2013 Educator Award in acknowledgment of the positive impact their educational efforts have had in diverse communities. Additionally, they were awarded the 2012 Lad Prize which culminated in large-scale community engagement work, performing in the Stanford area, and a masterclass residency at Stanford University. The Aeolus Quartet has also served as teaching faculty at Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY), the Austin Chamber Music Workshop, and Da Camera of Houston’s Music Encounters Program. Working in collaboration with the University of Texas through the Rural Chamber Music Outreach Initiative, the Quartet has presented educational programs and performances in communities throughout the state of Texas.

The Aeolus Quartet has studied extensively with the Miró, Guarneri, and Juilliard Quartets. Other mentors include artists such as William Preucil, Peter Salaff, Donald Weilerstein, Itzhak Perlman, Gerhard Schulz, and Mark Steinberg. Members of the Quartet hold degrees from the Peabody Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the University of Texas at Austin, where they served as the first Graduate String Quartet-in-Residence.

The 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, concert touring throughout the United States, and residencies in North Carolina and at the Austin Chamber Music Center’s Summer Festival.

The Quartet is named for the Greek god Aeolus, who governed the four winds. This idea of a single spirit uniting four individual forces serves as an inspiration to the members of the Aeolus Quartet as they pursue their art.

Appalachian Polaroids – Steven Snowden, 2011

This piece begins with a 1976 field recording of Sheila Kay Adams (no relation to Shelby Lee) singing the popular folk song Black is the Color in Asheville, North Carolina. The quartet quietly enters as an integrated component of the recording, playing with the wood of their bows to create a slightly noisy effect, similar to the tape hiss present in the old equipment used to record Sheila’s stunning voice. Their sound gradually becomes more brilliant until the group finally emerges with crowing figures reminiscent of Appalachian fiddle playing.

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Black Bend

Composed by Dan Visconti. Recorded in 2010.

This work is a rare breed in the concert music canon, a piece written after a ghost story.

Legend states that above the Cuyahoga River lay a train track with a sharp curve known as “The Black Bend.” This piece embodies an ill-fated train traveling across the track at high speeds, finally reaching critical tempo before the train and its passengers reach their bitter end.

However, the resulting atmosphere is the same as the opening one. Nature, it seems, is unchanged by this event.

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Ariel Ascending, Mvmt. III – Feb. 2014

Composer Christopher Theofanidis: “I started Ariel Ascending after reading the poem of Sylvia Plath, ‘Ariel,’ which conjured in me a feeling of both the beautiful and the nightmarish.

The third movement inhabits the realm of the earth, and has a very fast, folk-like quality to it. The melodic material is harmonized in a rather strident fashion, often in intervals of 7ths and 9ths. The rhythmic base rides over a very quick eighth note pulse which constantly shifts between the feeling of two and three, creating a locally unstable flow.”

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