On Friday, October 22, the Hamilton community was treated to an evening of music by the Lydian String Quartet. The performance took place in the chapel at 7:30 p.m. and featured the four members of the quartet – Daniel Stepner, Judith Eissenberg, Mary Ruth Ray and Joshua Gordon – and guest violinist Laura Klugherz.
The Lydian String Quartet was formed in 1980 and since then has garnered international critical acclaim. They have won competitions in Canada, France, England and New York and have performed extensively at many popular venues in the U.S. such as the Kennedy Center in Boston and the Lincoln Center in New York. The group has also made appearances in France, England, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Russia and Armenia.
Not surprisingly, the group attracted a wide range of people as students and professors alike came to watch their performance that night.
“I decided to come tonight because I just love classical music,” said first-year David Poortinga. “I actually took a master’s class with them yesterday, and they’re marvelous teachers. They bring such a great arrangement of music to the audience and they have such a cohesiveness. You can tell they really enjoy playing together,” said Sarah Wider, Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the university.
As the lights were dimmed, the concert began with “String Quartet No. 1,” a piece composed by Charles Ives in 1896. Ives chose to insert fragments of hymn-tunes throughout the four movements, resulting in a work that, according to Ives Scholar J. Peter Burkholder, resembles “something of the shape of a Protestant service.”
Next on the quartet’s repertoire was Thanks, Victor, four songs by Victor Young compiled and arranged by John Harbison. Thanks, Victor is a work close to the Lydian String Quartet’s heart since Daniel Stepner, first violinist, said, “If we had a patron saint it would be Beethoven, or it might be Victor Young.”
The third song of the concert was Alejandro Cardona’s “Historias Mínimas.” It roughly translates to “Small Stories” in English, which is exactly what the piece is: a series of short stories, told through music, that form an interconnected work. The fourth movement of the work, “Delgadina Blues,” is especially haunting as it depicts the story of a King who tries to seduce his daughter, but fails and imprisons her in a cell.
A lengthy intermission soon followed to give the musicians a breather. Clearly, the audience was impressed with what they’ve heard thus far.
“These people are great,” said Max Miller, a junior and member of the chamber strings, “Their sense of musicality is great. They really listen to each other and play together really well.”
Faith Wider, who accompanied her mother to the performance that night, said, “I think it would be really cool to do this when I grow up.”
The last piece of the night was Quintet in E Flat, Op, 97, for violins, violas, and cello by Antonin Dvo?ák and required the assistance of guest violinist Laura Klugherz. The piece had an American flair inspired by Dvo?ák’s three year sojourn (1892-1895) to the United States. The quintet is, according to Daniel Stepner, full of “‘American’ tunes clothed in full orchestrations.”
As the lighting was adjusted to its usual brightness, the Lydian String Quartet and guest violinist Laura Krugherz left the stage accompanied by a round of applause. “The selection of music was delightful. They chose an excellent group of composers that, in my opinion, really complemented their style,” first-year Rachel Valdivieso said.