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Internationally acclaimed Brentano String Quartet returns to the ASU School of Music for 2015–16 visiting quartet residency program

The Brentano String Quartet returns to the ASU School of Music as the visiting string quartet residency program for the 2015–16 school year.

Photo by Peter Schaaf

June 03, 2015

Praised as “passionate, uninhibited and spellbinding” by the London Independent and having a “luxuriously warm sound and yearning lyricism” by The New York Times, the Brentano Quartet returns to the ASU School of Music as the visiting string quartet residency program for the 2015–16 school year. This will be Brentano’s third time as visiting artists at ASU and the 11th anniversary of this distinctive program that is one of the leading chamber music experiences in the country.

Each year the ASU School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts chooses a different major professional string quartet to serve as distinguished artists and teachers in this innovative residency program, which integrates a comprehensive chamber music curriculum with coaching by top musicians in the field.

“Our program is unique because the quartet comes in for multiple visits throughout the year, allowing students to develop relationships and learn what they have to offer more fully than can be done through a one-time visit,” says Jonathan Swartz, artistic director of the program and violin professor in the School of Music.

“Our program also integrates community engagement activities, so our students are making valuable contributions to the larger community,” says Swartz. “Each year, these activities include presentations and performances for almost 1,000 local high school students, performances at both the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Hospital and a collaborative project with new compositions inspired by art at the Phoenix Art Museum.”

The program is designed to give students access to arts entrepreneurs and critical insights from national experts, while working on themed projects that teach hands-on experience in performance techniques. A themed project can be specific, focusing on the music of one composer, or as broad as a whole genre of music — Romantic Period repertoire or music with a folk influence, for example. The students study and perform this music, while gaining an understanding of the broader context for the works they’re performing.

Over the course of a four-year undergraduate degree, students will have developed relationships with four different professional string quartets, while covering all the major pillars of chamber music literature. “In a four-year period, the program will cover all standard composers/periods in some way or form (Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, etc.), as well as lesser-known projects like the music of English composers,” says Swartz. “Also, each year our students work on new compositions by ASU composers, so they are always working on music of our time. Our goal is to give them a full balance of ‘standard’ repertoire, alongside projects they may not already be aware exist.”

Formed in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet has garnered critical acclaim for their performances throughout the U.S. as well as in Europe, Japan and Australia. The current quartet, made up of violinists Mark Steinberg and Serena Canin, violist Misha Amory and cellist Nina Lee, has been playing together since 1998. In addition to performing the entire two-century range of standard quartet repertoire, the Brentano String Quartet has a strong interest in both very old and very new music. It was recently named the resident string quartet at the Yale School of Music.

“Brentano is one of the elite string quartets in the country, and they have a unique group sound and approach that will benefit our students greatly,” says Swartz. “They also have aligned their concert programs with specific curriculum we want our students to study. This will include Romantic Period repertoire, 20th century repertoire and a lesser-known work by Novak (a student of Dvorak) that we will explore with our students’ fugues. We are lucky that Brentano comes to ASU every four years, as they are brilliant, expressive players. They are a true quartet — unified, yet distinguished. They are excellent teachers who inspire with their curiosity and knowledge, as well as their playing.”

As a part of this residency, the Brentano Quartet will be featured in three concerts at the School of Music during 2015–16: Oct. 23, Feb. 5 and April 8.

Beginning August 1, a three-concert ticket package will be available for $52 – a savings of $17. Patrons also have the option of adding other Herberger Institute events to their own personalized season package for more savings. A two-dollar handling fee applies to all orders, and a web per ticket purchase fee will apply.

Summer box office hours are Monday – Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30–4:30 p.m.

To order tickets, call the Herberger Institute Box Office at 480.965.6447 or visit

Public Contact: 
Heather Beaman
School of Music Communications Liaison

Media Contact:
Heather Beaman
School of Music Communications Liaison