Omer Quartet is named YSM’s new fellowship quartet-in-residence

Omer Quartet

Omer Quartet

The Omer Quartet has been named the new fellowship quartet-in-residence at the Yale School of Music. During its two-year appointment, which begins in the fall, the quartet will be mentored by the School’s ensemble-in-residence, the Brentano String Quartet, and will coach undergraduate chamber music ensembles at Yale College’s Department of Music. The Omer Quartet, which succeeds the Rolston String Quartet as YSM’s fellowship quartet, includes violinists Mason Yu and Erica Tursi, violist Jinsung Hong, and cellist Alex Cox.

The quartet won the Grand Prize and the Gold Medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2013 and was a first-prize winner at the 2017 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, among other distinctions. The quartet was formed at the Cleveland Institute of Music and later served a graduate residency at the New England Conservatory. The group has collaborated with such respected artists as Sérgio and Odair Assad, Eugene Drucker, Clive Greensmith, Kim Kashkashian, Cho-Liang Lin, Ricardo Morales, and the Borromeo String Quartet, and has collaborated with composers Perry Goldstein and Sean Shepherd.

The Omer Quartet comes to Yale having served as chamber-ensemble-in-residence at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival and as the doctoral fellowship quartet-in-residence at the University of Maryland. While at Yale, the quartet will be introduced to audiences in New Haven and beyond. In October, the group will perform concerts in Sudler Hall and at Carnegie Hall as part of YSM’s Yale in New York Series. In December, the quartet will perform a recital program in Morse Recital Hall.

Committed to community engagement, the quartet inaugurated a Music for Food concert series in the Washington D.C. area with the mission to support local hunger relief with a Tarisio Trust Young Artists Grant. The concerts involved local and out of town guest musicians and raised almost $5,000, creating over 10,000 meals to date.

Learn more about the ensemble at omerquartet.com.

Published July 25, 2019
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Rolston, Brentano quartet members talk about mentee-mentor relationship

Rolston String Quartet

Since September 2017, the Rolston String Quartet, a group that was coached at the 2016 Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival by the likes of the Brentano and Emerson string quartets before winning that year’s prestigious Banff International String Quartet Competition, has been the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence. The opportunity to be mentored by the Brentano String Quartet, YSM’s quartet-in-residence, and to mentor undergraduates studying at the University’s Department of Music, while maintaining an active performance schedule, has been fruitful.

Rolston cellist Jonathan Lo pointed to collaborations with such distinguished School of Music faculty members as composer Hannah Lash, clarinetist David Shifrin, and flutist Ransom Wilson as invaluable opportunities. Of the Brentanos, Lo said, “They have been some of our foremost musical inspirations.” He described the Brentanos as “incredible musicians,” quick to share his appreciation for the chance “to be able to play for musicians of their caliber … one of the finest quartets in the world.”

Brentano violinist Mark Steinberg talked about the freedom YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence has at YSM to discover itself. “We give them regular coaching,” Steinberg said, “but we don’t overwhelm them.” The world doesn’t simply need more quartets, he said, but “we’re in a world that needs a string quartet with something urgent to say.”

Brentano String Quartet

Brentano String Quartet

Ideas are in plentiful supply at Yale, and “the University as a whole is open to (the Rolstons),” Steinberg said. “Everything that’s going on is fodder for your own thinking. The resources at Yale are incredible that way. It’s a really fertile place.”

The Rolstons’ residence, which ends in May 2019, has allowed them to pass some of their shared experience on to other, younger musicians. “For us to be able to work with the undergraduate students,” and to gain teaching experience, “is very invigorating for us,” Lo said. “Any serious ensemble should consider the (fellowship) program, because it offers a great balance of resources and input. It’s been everything that we could have hoped for.” 

 

ROLSTON STRING QUARTET

BRENTANO STRING QUARTET

Published September 7, 2018
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Emily Kruspe Joins Rolston String Quartet

Emily Kruspe

We spoke recently with violinist Emily Kruspe about joining YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, the Rolston String Quartet, whose other three members have been working together for five years. Kruspe succeeds violinist Jeffrey Dyrda, who left the quartet to pursue new career opportunities.

“I’ve played a lot with professional ensembles, but never with a group so specialized as a quartet,” Kruspe said. “The other three have been playing together since 2013, and pretty much exclusively with each other, so they are extremely aware and good at reading each other’s body language, among many other things. The challenge for me is fitting in enough so as not to disrupt what has already been so well established, yet to have my own personality and voice in the group. In our rehearsals, there is actually a lot of discussion and demonstration. Not everything can be picked up by listening and imitation—ideas must be translated in other forms.”

Kruspe discussed the challenges of learning repertoire that the rest of the ensemble already knows. “Up until very recently, I have been playing pieces the quartet has rehearsed, been coached on, and performed,” Kruspe said. “To fit into an established interpretation of a work that has already been meticulously analyzed is difficult, but very rewarding. I am using parts of my brain I have never exercised before! What makes a lot of the challenging stuff easier is that these three musicians are among the easiest people to play with. They are very accommodating and clear, and it simplifies a lot for me.”

Kruspe also spoke about the opportunity to be mentored by the Brentano String Quartet, YSM’s quartet-in-residence. “Working with the Brentano Quartet—what can I say—I feel extremely fortunate. They are among the best quartets in the world, and are such wonderful people. I am so looking forward to working with and learning from them.”

ROLSTON STRING QUARTET

BRENTANO STRING QUARTET

Published June 21, 2018
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Rolston String Quartet named YSM’s new fellowship quartet-in-residence

Rolston String Quartet | Photo by Tianxiao Zhang Photography

The Rolston String Quartet ’16Norfolk has been named the new fellowship quartet-in-residence at the Yale School of Music. The group, whose previous residencies include the Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in the summer of 2016, will begin their tenure at YSM this fall. While at Yale, the quartet will work closely with the Brentano String Quartet — YSM’s quartet-in-residence — perform recitals, and participate in education-outreach programs.

“The Rolston String Quartet is very eager to come to New Haven as the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence,” the group said in a statement. “We are incredibly optimistic about the possibilities for development and growth provided by Yale’s stimulating environment. We can’t wait to meet the Yale students and faculty who will illuminate and influence this new experience. Working closely with the Brentano Quartet is a dream come true. They are endlessly generous and inspiring people whose artistic spirits are to be admired. We look forward to deepening our musical understandings, refining our interpretations, and benefiting from their extensive professional experience.

“We will be so lucky to be able to coach chamber ensembles made up of Yale (undergraduate) students; this opportunity is a rare one that will yield immense insight into the complexities of teaching music. The fellowship program at Yale will aid our growth as we cultivate an ensemble that reflects the values of community, the highest levels of artistic and academic excellence, and the important traditions of chamber music,” the group said.

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Published May 16, 2017
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Argus Quartet wins Senior Strings division of M-Prize competition

The Argus Quartet, left to right: cellist Jo Whang ’09MM, violist Dana Kelley, violinist Jason Issokson, and violinist Clara Kim

The Argus Quartet, YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, has been named the first place winner in the Senior Strings division of the University of Michigan’s M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition. In addition to a cash prize of $20,000, the quartet will return to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance for a residency during the 2017-18 academic year.

Now in its second year, the M-Prize seeks “to identify and showcase the highest caliber of international chamber arts ensembles,” according to the competition’s website. In addition to distributing more than $200,000 of cash prizes (an increase from last year) the M-Prize provides competition winners with platforms for professional development and performance opportunities.

This year, 29 applicants were selected to compete as semifinalists for the grand prize in Michigan. The ensembles, which are made up of 112 artists from seven countries, were selected from an pool of more than 100 ensembles representing 41 countries. In addition to increased prize coffers, this year’s competition featured an interview round during which each of the senior division winners (strings, winds, and other) were asked to advocate on behalf of their ensemble’s repertoire and program plan.

Having been praised by the Calgary Herald for its “supreme melodic control and total authority,” the Argus Quartet is quickly gaining a reputation as one of today’s most dynamic and versatile young ensembles.

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Published May 10, 2017
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