Cuarteto Casals impressed audience members on opening night of the Harris Concert Hall, a music series created by Concerts International and ArtsMemphis.
They are a four-piece string quartet from Spain known as the first Spanish string quartet with an impressive international profile, including receiving the Premio Nacional de Musica and the Premi Cituat Barcelona. The quartet even accompanies the King of Spain on diplomatic visits on occasion.
The concert series will run from Tuesday Oct. 22, 2013 until Tuesday April 3, 2014 and will feature a wide variety of musical performances and genres, including a family of Armenian guitar virtuosos.
Members of the quartet are not only playing in Memphis on their two-week U.S. tour – they will play for a sold-out audience at the Library of Congress on Thursday Oct. 24, 2013.
The organization is encouraging students to attend future performances by offering a limited number of free tickets to students at University of Memphis and admission for students from other Universities is only $10 per ticket. Show tickets are available at the info desk in the University Center or at the box office in the Music Building.
The Harris Concert Hall in the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music building is known for its sound acoustics, charming intimacy, and central location said Stephanie Tatum, the executive director of Concerts International.
They are able to create affordable, once in a lifetime events thanks to the working relationship with the University and financial support from ArtsMemphis.
“ArtsMemphis is also a great organization to work with. They help support us through grants and are always willing to assist with anything we need. They want the arts to be successful in Memphis and will help in any way they possibly can,” said, Barbara Blumenthal, board vice president of Concerts International, before the show.
“We have had concerts at other venues in town and our subscribers always want to come back to Harris Concert Hall,” Tatum said. “Our subscribers always want to come back.”
A large of group of supporters of Arts Memphis made it out to opening night, as well as a few student listeners who dotted the audience.
“A quartet for the new millennium if I ever heard one,” according to Strad Magazine.
The three-piece set lasted just under an hour. The quartet played a Spanish composition capturing the view of the Mediterranean from a village in Barcelona in the 1920s with “Vistes al Mar” by Eduard Toldra.
A thought-provoking piece by Dimitri Shostakovich was played second and introduced by Jonathan Brown, the violist, the sole American member of the quartet. The concert pamphlet provided detailed context about the history of the piece.
“In America if you write a piece that nobody likes, it’s just a piece that nobody likes. But in Stalin’s Russia, if a composer wrote a piece that the authorities didn’t like, it was a ticket to a concentration camp,” describes the concert pamphlet.
The third piece, composer Claude Debussy’s Quartet in G Minor, Opus 10 rounded off their program with a light, impressionistic feel, and their encore further delighted fans.