FIVE FRIDAYS: The Jasper String Quartet with Benito Meza, Clarinet
ABOUT THE JASPER STRING QUARTET
Winner of the prestigious 2012 CMA Cleveland Quartet Award, the Jasper String Quartet has been hailed as "sonically delightful and expressively compelling" (The Strad) and "powerful" (The New York Times). The Classical Voice of North Carolina says they play "with sparkling vitality and great vervepolished, engaged, and in tune with one another." The quartet recently released two highly acclaimed albums for the Sono Luminus label, featuring the works of Beethoven, Schubert, and Aaron Jay Kernis. The Jaspers are the Ensemble-in-Residence at Classic Chamber Concerts in Naples, Florida, and, in conjunction with Astral Artists, were awarded a 2012 grant from Chamber Music America through its Residency Partnership Program.
After winning the Grand Prize and the Audience Prize in the 2008 Plowman Chamber Music Competition, the Jasper Quartet went on to win the Grand Prize at the 2008 Coleman Competition, First Prize at Chamber Music Yellow Springs 2008, and the Silver Medal at both the 2008 and 2009 Fischoff Chamber Music competitions. The Jasper Quartet was a winner of Astral Artists' 2010 National Auditions and the first ensemble to win the Yale School of Music's Horatio Parker Memorial Prize, an award established in 1945 for "best fulfillinglofty musical ideals." In addition, they recently completed their 2010-2012 residency at Oberlin Conservatory.
The Jasper String Quartet performs pieces emotionally significant to its members, ranging from Haydn and Beethoven to Berg, Ligeti, and living composers. They have commissioned string quartets from some of today's best emerging composers, including Andrew Norman, Nicholas Omiccioli, Conrad Tao, and Annie Gosfield. The quartet has also developed strong relationships with Aaron Jay Kernis, Lera Auerbach, and Leo Blanco.
The Jasper Quartet has brought well over 100 outreach programs into schools, and enjoys educational work of all kinds. During their 2007 Melba and Orville Roleffson Residency at the Banff Centre, the Jaspers embarked on a "guerilla chamber music" project, performing concerts in unusual settings around Alberta, Canada. More recently, the quartet has worked closely with the Caramoor Center for Music and Arts and with Astral Artists to bring outreach activities to schools.
Formed at Oberlin Conservatory, the Jasper Quartet began pursuing its professional career in 2006 while studying with James Dunham, Norman Fischer, and Kenneth Goldsmith as Rice University's Graduate Quartet-in-Residence. In 2008, the quartet continued its training with the Tokyo String Quartet, as Yale University's Graduate Quartet-in-Residence.
The Jasper Quartet is named after Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada.
ABOUT BENITO MEZA
Regarded as "a daring force of nature" by The New York Times, and "a performer on a league of his own" by The Los Angeles Times, Colombian clarinetist Benito Meza has appeared with the Boston Philharmonic, the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, the Gardner Chamber Orchestra, the Modern Music Ensemble, the Los Angeles Wind Ensemble, and on Harvard University's Chamber Music series, among many others. A winner of Astral Artists' 2009 National Auditions, he made his critically acclaimed concerto debut on Astral's series in April 2012, with Symphony in C. He appears on Astral's series in the 2012-2013 season in its Inspired By The Spiritual concert.
Mr. Meza has performed and studied with such renowned musicians and conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel, and Yo-Yo Ma. In Boston, he studied with Jonathan Cohler. He has appeared in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall, Boston's Jordan Hall, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Sanders Theater at Harvard University, and at Lincoln Center, and recently recorded the Grammy-nominated album Providencia with famed pianist and composer Danilo Pérez, for the Mack Avenue Records label.
Mr. Meza grew up in a musical family, and first studied music with his father. At the age of 14 he began clarinet lessons with Carlos Julio Parra Vivas in his native city of Valledupar, and at 17 was awarded a full scholarship to Javeriana University's music program, where he studied with Hector Pinzon and Christopher Jepperson. In 2001, he was invited to study at the National Institute of Musical Studies in Venezuela with Valdemar Rodriguez and Edgar Pronio, and joined Venezuela's world-famous music education program, El Sistema. As a member of the celebrated Simón Bolívar Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, he made television appearances with Maestro Andrés Briceño.
Also a composer, Mr. Meza's compositions and development as a musician have been greatly influenced by the wealth of varied forms of music he was exposed to throughout his childhood. From the beginning of his career, he was involved with both classical and jazz music, and Colombian folk music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and contemporary improvisation are also represented in the structure of his compositions.
Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill (View)
22 East Chestnut Hill Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118
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