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Performing Arts Spotlight: Jupiter String Quartet

By Connor Forrest

According to Nimrod Sadeh ’17.5, cellist and co-President of the Middlebury College Orchestra, “Attending a chamber recital is watching and listening to four people conjure a temporal realm, a celestial world where the creative energies of all members are understood without words, a communicative work of art in real-time. Playing chamber music is the closest thing we have to telepathy, and Jupiter’s magic is that they have mastered it. “

As we welcome Jupiter String Quartet’s seventh Middlebury performance this Wednesday, March 23, we invite you to join the party. Performing with the dastardly duo of duos will be violist Roger Tapping and cellist Natasha Brofsky. This will mark the eighteenth time Tapping has graced our halls. Together, the group will perform works by Schubert and Brahms, as well as Schoenberg’s haunting and beautiful “Transfigured Night.”

The Jupiter String Quartet is known around the world for its blazing, passionate and energetic performances. What truly sets the group apart, however, is the unparalleled chemistry and communication visible in every piece. Chamber music is unique in that it vigorously diminishes the stodgy barriers that could keep new audiences from enjoying the genre. Equally important to hearing the music is watching the interplay between musicians as they form an organic composition that is built on sheet music but can tower as high as the group can take it. For Jupiter String Quartet, the stars are the limit.

The quartet’s strong sense of connection is partly due to their intense musical attention to one another, but it is also due to the fact that they are literally family. Within the quartet, violist Liz Freivogel and second violinist Megan Freivogel are sisters, and Megan is married to cellist Daniel McDonough. Violinist Nelson Lee rounds out the quartet.  Their guest artists — violist Roger Tapping and cellist Natasha Brofsky — are also a married couple. This level of intimacy between players adds a layer of dimension to their playing that unlocks pieces in a way that is rarely experienced.

Performing Arts Series Director Allison Coyne Carroll writes, “It’s only into the hands of family that I would entrust a story as intimate as Schoenberg’s ‘Transfigured Night.’ This lush, dense and highly chromatic work is inspired by a poem by German poet Richard Dehmel, describing a couple in love walking through the woods on a moonlit night. She reveals she’s pregnant with another man’s child, a man she never loved. The man lovingly accepts her, and the child as if his own; and the unborn child, man, woman and the night itself are transfigured from darkness into light.”

Now in their thirteenth year of making music together, the members of this tightly knit ensemble perform across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and South America. As winners of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America, they have enjoyed playing in some of the world’s finest halls, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress. From 2007 to 2010, the Quartet was in residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two. Now, they are the String Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where they maintain private studios as well as responsibility for running the chamber music program.

Doors for the Jupiter String Quartet concert with Roger Tapping and Natasha Brofsky will open on Wednesday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mahaney Center for the Arts.

Tickets are only $6 for students. To find more information or purchase tickets, stop by either of the box offices in McCullough or the MCA. Visit go/freetickets to learn about the MCA’s various opportunities for complimentary tickets.

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