[Around Tappan Square]

Russian Quartet Spends A Year At The Con

The renowned St. Petersburg Quartet will spend the 1997-98 academic year as the Conservatory of Music's Quartet-in-Residency. "We are very excited to have this opportunity to work for an extended period with such a premier ensemble," says Jeffrey Irvine, professor of viola and director of the string division. ". . . they teach with an intensity and devotion that will be very inspiring to our students."

Besides offering master classes, open rehearsals, and chamber-music coaching sessions, the quartet will perform the entire cycle of the 15 Shostakovich string quartets in five concerts over the course of their year at Oberlin. The group also gave a concert in Oberlin's Artist Recital Series in September.

They bring to Oberlin not only great musical expertise, but a knowledge of the working and living conditions that come with international recognition as well. "A string quartet of this nature plays chamber music on a much different level than conservatory students generally experience," says Irvine. "Groups like this tend to rehearse three to four hours a day, and that allows one to develop a level of sophistication and balance that is difficult to even approach when you're rehearsing four hours a week."

Students will benefit from observing how quartet members work together and how they choose music and tours, adds conservatory dean Karen Wolff, all of which is "part of what Oberlin students need to hear about before they set out on careers of their own."

The residency is being made possible by a $125,000 grant from Cleveland's Reinberger Foundation, which will also be used to fund similar projects in the future.

"I think [the quartet] is going to be a lively group," says Wolff. "It's young enough that I think it'll be of considerable interest to our students. It will be fun." And, of course, a lot of hard but satisfying work.

pictured above: The St. Petersburg String Quartet: Leonid Shukaev, cello (seated); standing, left to right: Konstantin Kats, viola, Alla Aranovshaya, first violin, and Ilya Teplyakov, second violin.

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