Escher String Quartet, pianist Gilles Vonsattel to perform Oct. 30

October 03, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Escher String Quartet and pianist Gilles Vonsattel will make their Penn State debuts — in a program featuring the world premiere of a piece by San Francisco-born composer Anthony Cheung — at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, in Schwab Auditorium at University Park.

The quartet will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s String Quartet No. 23. Vonsattel will then join the ensemble to christen Cheung’s “All Roads.” The five-movement work, inspired by Billy Strayhorn’s “Lotus Blossom,” was co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts through its membership in the Music Accord consortium. The five musicians will also play Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34.

The Escher ensemble, formed in 2005, has earned applause for its expressive, nuanced performances that combine unusual textural clarity with a rich, blended sound. A former BBC New Generation Artist, the quartet is one of the few chamber ensembles to win the Avery Fisher Career Grant. The group has performed with a number of classical music luminaries, but it also has collaborated with jazz artists such as Joshua Redman, Kurt Elling and Paquito D’Rivera.

In its hometown of New York City, the quartet serves as season artists of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The ensemble — violinists Adam Barnett-Hart and Danbi Um, violist Pierre Lapointe, and cellist Brook Speltz — also is quartet in residence at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Read a Center for the Performing Arts interview with Um.

Vonsattel, winner of the Naumburg and Geneva piano competitions, is a musician of versatility and originality. The Swiss-born American artist, who displays a sense of adventure and musical curiosity, performs an enormous range of repertoire. An Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, Vonsattel in recent years has made his Boston Symphony, Tanglewood and San Francisco Symphony debuts.

A New York Times critic describes his most recent New York City recital as “tightly conceived and passionately performed … a study in intensity.”

After the concert, the artists will engage in a conversation with interested audience members.

Pieter and Lida Ouwehand sponsor the presentation. The Norma and Ralph Condee Chamber Music Endowment provides support.

Classical Coffeehouse featuring Escher and Cheung

The Escher ensemble also is scheduled to perform a mini concert at Classical Coffeehouse, a Center for the Performing Arts-Penn State Alumni Association collaboration that takes place at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, in Penn State’s Hintz Family Alumni Center. Cheung will speak about his work at the coffeehouse.

Designed for Penn State students but open to community members, Classical Coffeehouse aims to expand the audience for traditional and contemporary music by offering a relaxed atmosphere with discussion and socializing among audience members and artists.

Classical Coffeehouse partners include Blue & White Society, PSU Music Service Club, and Penn State Coffee Club. The coffeehouse is free for University Park students. A $10 donation is suggested for each nonstudent. Donations help to sustain the series. Complimentary beverages and snacks are served. Seating is limited, but standing room is available when seating is full. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, visit the Center for the Performing Arts online or call 814-863-0255.

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  • A man dressed in a dark suit sits on a piano bench and pretends to play a piano.

    Swiss-born pianist Gilles Vonsattel is a winner of the Naumburg and Geneva piano competitions. He will perform with Escher String Quartet on Oct. 30 at Schwab Auditorium.

    IMAGE: Marco Borggreve

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 03, 2018