Renowned for bringing fresh excitement to traditional string quartet repertoire as well as for creating thoroughly insightful interpretations of new music, the Chiara String Quartet (Rebecca Fischer and Julie Hye-Yung Yoon, violins; Jonah Sirota, viola; Gregory Beaver, cello) captivates and enthralls its audiences throughout the country. During 2010-2011, the Chiara is celebrating its tenth anniversary season. Over its first decade, the Chiara has established itself as among America’s most respected ensembles, lauded for its “highly virtuosic, edge-of-the-seat playing” (The Boston Globe).
The Chiara String Quartet serves as Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University, where it is currently performing the complete cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets. The Chiara’s honors include a top prize at the Paolo Borciani International Competition, winning the Astral Artistic Services National Audition, and winning First Prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. Awarded the Guarneri Quartet Residency Award for artistic excellence by Chamber Music America, the Chiara Quartet has also been the recipient of grants from Meet The Composer and the Amphion Foundation.
The Chiara Quartet performs in major concert halls across the country, including Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Gallery in Washington DC, and Harris Hall at the Aspen Music Festival. The ensemble also devotes a portion of its performance season to concerts in non-classical venues including (le) Poisson Rouge and Galapagos Art Space in New York, The Tractor Tavern in Seattle, Avant Garden in Houston, and the Hideout in Chicago, among many others. Recent highlights of the Chiara Quartet’s international performances include the American Academy in Rome, a critically-acclaimed eight-city tour of Sweden with clarinetist Hakan Rosengren, and a performance of Steve Reich’s Different Trains in Munich at the storied Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat.
Described by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as “vastly talented, vastly resourceful, and vastly committed to the music of their time,” the Chiara has commissioned and premiered new works since its inception. In addition to the Friedman quartets, the Chiara has commissioned works from Gabriela Lena Frank, Robert Sirota, Michael Wittgraf, and Randall Snyder. Currently, the ensemble is embarking on a two-year commissioning project called Creator/Curator. The Chiara will commission new works for string quartet from composers Nico Muhly, Huang Ruo, Daniel Ott, and Gabriela Lena Frank. Each composer will curate the concert on which their piece is premiered, choosing music that complements and gives context. Creator/Curator concerts will take place in four cities during the 2011-2012 concert season.
This season, New Amsterdam Records will release the Chiara’s recording of composer Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3. Both celebrated pieces, which “already deserve to be heard as classics of this decade” (The New York Times) were commissioned by the Chiara, and are the result of a more than ten-year friendship with the composer.
The Chiara discography includes the Mozart and Brahms clarinet quintets with Hakan Rosengren for SMS Classical, and the world premiere recordings of Robert Sirota’s Triptych and Gabriela Lena Frank’s Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout for the Quartet’s own New Voice Singles label. The Chiara is also featured on Nadia Sirota’s debut recording for New Amsterdam Records, first things first, which was included on “Best of” lists in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Out New York, and many more. Other recent collaborators of the quartet include Joel Krosnick, Todd Palmer, Simone Dinnerstein, Norman Fischer, and Paul Katz, as well as members of the Orion, Ying, Cavani, and Pacifica Quartets.
The Chiara Quartet has been artists-in-residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 2005. In the summer, they are in residence at Greenwood Music Camp as well as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Chamber Music Institute. The Chiara trained and taught at The Juilliard School, mentoring for two years with the Juilliard Quartet, as recipients of the Lisa Arnhold Quartet Residency from 2003-2005.
Chiara (key-ARE-uh) is an Italian word, meaning “clear, pure, or light.”