Skip to main content

High school string event featuring the Brentano Quartet delves into the history and fun side of fugues

The Brentano Quartet teams up with the Tetra String Quartet Feb. 5 to host a pair of engaging presentations for 900 Arizona high school students. Image courtesy of the Brentano Quartet.

Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

February 01, 2016

Have you been to a concert and wished that you knew more about the inspiration and historical influence behind the music on the program? On Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, this year’s visiting string quartet, the world renowned Brentano Quartet, will team up with the Tetra String Quartet, made up of School of Music alumni, to host a pair of engaging presentations for 900 Arizona high school string players. This unique annual event blends beautiful music with an informative history lesson, and aims to inspire these budding musicians to further pursue their love of string playing.

“The ASU Visiting String Quartet Residency program is distinct among music programs nationwide in that it integrates interactions with visiting resident artists into a comprehensive chamber music curriculum,” says Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. “Over the course of a four-year undergraduate program, ASU string students work and develop relationships with four internationally acclaimed string quartets. It also is important to our mission to provide a taste of this experience to Arizona high school string students each year, so that they too can learn about performance techniques, music enterprise and critical insights, and leave with an understanding of the transformative capacity of music.”

Organized by professors Jonathan Swartz and Nancy Buck, the event will alternate between discussions with the Tetra String Quartet and performances by the internationally renowned Brentano Quartet and ASU string students.
This year’s theme will focus on fugues. The Tetra String Quartet will lead a discussion on the definition of a fugue and how this type of musical composition is structured, after which an interactive activity will bring all the schools together and give students an experience of what it feels like to perform a fugue.

In a written statement, the members of the Tetra String Quartet said, “We are excited to have these high school students interact with the Brentano String Quartet during this fugue activity. The fugue that we arranged is based on two popular tunes that will be very relevant. The best part is, all participants will be able to say that they have performed with the Brentano String Quartet!”

The life and style of featured composer Vitezslav Novak will be discussed, as will his work “String Quartet no. 2.” The first movement of this piece is a fugue, and the students will get to see examples of the score so they can see where the subject/answer of the fugue occurs.

As a finale to the afternoon, Novak’s “String Quartet no. 2” will be performed in its entirety with ASU string students playing along with the Brentano Quartet. Hearing this piece will help reinforce the information the students just learned and make it relevant.

“There is reciprocal meaningfulness in our work with the high school students,” Swartz says. “Music’s inspiration reaches deeper with context and meaning. To engage with young musicians and explore with them creative possibility reinforces artistic relevance and its impact in society.”

For more information about the Visiting Quartet Residency Program, please go to

Media Contact:
Heather Beaman
School of Music Communications Liaison