Rebecca Fischer, violin
Jonah Sirota, viola
Hye-Yung Julie Yoon, violin
Gregory Beaver, cello
Renowned for bringing fresh excitement to traditional string quartet repertoire as well as for creating insightful interpretations of new music, the Chiara String Quartet (Rebecca Fischer and Hyeyung Julie Yoon, violins; Jonah Sirota, viola; Gregory Beaver, cello) captivates its audiences throughout the country. 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). They are currently Hixson-Lied Artists-in-Residence at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and were the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University from 2008-2014. For the 2015-2016 season, the Chiara will be the quartet-in-residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Now in its 16th season, the Chiara is moving forward by taking a cue from the past. Harkening back to a tradition that is centuries old and still common among soloists, the Chiara Quartet has adopted a new way of performing: from memory, without printed sheet music, or “by heart.” After spending countless hours working towards playing their repertoire from memory, they now feel that the sheet music is a distraction to the performance, instead of an aid. Of the process, the Chiara’s cellist Gregory Beaver says, “Each member must find a way to know the music inside and out – it has brought us much closer together in our music-making.” After memorizing a work, the Quartet is rewarded with deeply gratifying performances where each member feels fully present in the moment, truly performing with heart, by heart.
The Chiara is currently recording Bartók by Heart, a 2-CD set featuring Bartók’s six string quartets, played entirely from memory, slated for release in 2016 on Azica. The quartet’s latest album, Brahms by Heart, was released on Azica in March 2014. The 2-CD set includes Brahms’ String Quartets and his String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111 with violist Roger Tapping. The album, played “with infectious charm, exultant phrasing and nostalgic affection” (The Strad), was recorded by Grammy Award-winning producer Judith Sherman at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, New York. Strings raved, “The recording contributes to the feeling of being inside the music, indivisible from the beauty of the playing.”
The Chiara's recent honors include the nomination of its recording of Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartet No. 3 for a Grammy Award in 2011 and the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming for the 2010-2011 season. Past awards 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, The Aaron Copland Foundation, and the Amphion Foundation.
In addition to the Chiara Quartet’s regular performances in major concert halls across the country, including Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Gallery in Washington DC, the ensemble was one of the first string quartets to perform in alternative venues for chamber music performance. The Chiara Quartet has performed innovative concerts in non-classical spaces 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 extensive tours of China, Korea, and Sweden as well as performances at the American Academy in Rome, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, and of Steve Reich's Different Trains in Munich.
The Chiara Quartet is widely sought out for its innovative work in engagement with urban and rural communities of all ages. In 2012 the Chiara appeared with the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan as residents in the community, performing in unusual venues including a vacant storefront and a Toyota factory. In 2011, the Chiara was the first judge of the online string quartet competition “The Quartet Project Challenge,” an opportunity for young quartets from around the world to post performances on YouTube and receive comments from a professional quartet. In the 2011-12 season, the Chiara presented a concert series at Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach, a unique organization serving the working poor and homeless in Lincoln, Nebraska.
In addition to Brahms by Heart and the forthcoming Bartók by Heart, the complete Chiara discography includes a Grammy-nominated recording of Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3 on New Amsterdam Records, praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for its “lush ensemble sound that brings out the hidden depths of Friedman's harmonic language;” the Mozart and Brahms clarinet quintets with Håkan Rosengren for SMS Classical; and the world premiere recordings of Robert Sirota's Triptych and Gabriela Lena Frank's Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout on 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.
The Chiara has been committed to the creation of new music for string quartet since its inception, and has commissioned composers including Gabriela Lena Frank, Jefferson Friedman, Nico Muhly, Daniel Ott, Huang Ruo, Robert Sirota, Hans Tutschku, Carl Voss, and Michael Wittgraf, among others. Recent collaborators in performance include The Juilliard String Quartet, Joel Krosnick, Roger Tapping, Todd Palmer, Robert Levin, Simone Dinnerstein, Norman Fischer, Nadia Sirota, and Paul Katz, as well as members of the Orion, Ying, Cavani, and Pacifica Quartets.
In the summer, the Chiara Quartet is 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.
Chiara (key-ARE-uh) is an Italian word, meaning "clear, pure, or light." www.chiaraquartet.com
Hixson-Lied Concert Series dates, 2017-2018
Sept 13: Chiara Favorites
Music by Mendelssohn, Shostikovich, and Debussy, hand-picked by the Chiara Quartet!
October 18: Heavenly Voices
Featuring soprano Jamie Reimer, this program includes Karl Weigl’s 5 songs for Soprano and String Quartet, as well as Aaron Jay Kernis’ celestial String Quartet No. 1
January 31, 2018: The Family of Strings
A celebration of the incredible community of string faculty at the GKSOM, including guests David Neely, Clark Potter, Karen Becker, and Hans Sturm, as well as the winner of the Play with the Chiara Competition. Movements by Mendelssohn, Schubert, Bacewicz, Dvorak, and others. Also, a repeat performance of Beethoven’s ethereal Op. 132 String Quartet, played By Heart.
April 18: Philip Glass World Premiere (Lied Center)
Join the Chiara Quartet with pianist Paul Barnes for the WORLD PREMIERE of a new piano quintet by Philip Glass, in celebration of the composer’s 80th birthday!
Available through the Lied Center for Performing Arts ticket office, at 402.472.4747 or at the door