Last season the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) departed from planning four week-long residencies for its Chamber Music Masters series and introduced a new framework for a new Chamber Music series. A major change was the launch of a new Graduate String Quartet Fellowship Program, introduced in conjunction with a shift to concentrating on the string quartet repertoire. That concentration will continue into the 2015–16 season. Programming will include the new Fellowship quartet for the season, the Thalea String Quartet (which made its debut at SFCM last December), a residency that will include two concerts by the Borromeo String Quartet, visits by three additional string quartets for master classes (Kronos Quartet, Danish String Quartet, and Takács Quartet), and an extended visit (including a master class and a concert) by a string quartet leader, Geoff Nuttall co-founder of the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
All concerts in the Chamber Music series will require the purchase of tickets. As is the case for all SFCM events, the price will be $20 for general admission and $15 for students, seniors, and Conservatory members. For the remaining events, five master classes and one lecture about the string quartets of Béla Bartók, admission will be free; and reservations will not be required. In chronological order, the events in the Chamber Music series will be as follows:
Tuesday, October 13, 8 p.m., Recital Hall: This will be the first Fellowship recital by the members of the Thalea String Quartet. The performers are violinists Christopher Whitley and Kumiko Sakamoto, violist Luis Bellorin, and cellist Bridget Paskar. The program will consist of Hugo Wolf’s “Italian Serenade,” Giuseppe Verdi’s only string quartet, and the first of Gian Francesco Malipiero’s seven string quartets. Malipiero named this quartet after two early forms of Italian poetry, love messages from men to women known as rispetti and roundelays called strambotti. However, the quartet is structured as a single uninterrupted movement.
Tuesday, November 10, 7:30 p.m., Concert Hall: The members of the Kronos Quartet will visit to give a master class.
Wednesday, November 18, 7:30 p.m., Osher Salon: The members of the Danish String Quartet will visit to give a master class; they will come courtesy of Cal Performances in conjunction with the recital they will be giving in Berkeley.
Tuesday, December 8, 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall: Nuttall will give his master class in conjunction with his extended visit to work with SFCM students.
Thursday, December 10, 8 p.m., Concert Hall: Nuttall will perform with those students in a full concert of chamber music. The major composer on the program will be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with performances of his K. 379 violin sonata in G major and the K. 546 adagio and fugue in C minor for string quartet with the cello part doubled at the octave by a bass. The “First Viennese School” will also be represented by Joseph Haydn through his Hoboken III/32 quartet in C major, the second of his six Opus 20 quartets. The program will conclude with “something completely different,” Ernest Chausson’s Opus 21 concerto for violin, piano, and string quartet.
Monday, February 22, 10 a.m., Concert Hall: The members of the Takács String Quartet will visit to give a master class; they will come courtesy of Cal Performances in conjunction with the recital they will be giving in Berkeley.
Tuesday, February 23, 8 p.m., Recital Hall: The Thalea String Quartet will give their second Fellowship recital, whose program has not yet been announced.
Monday, March 14, 7:30 p.m., Concert Hall: The Borromeo String Quartet will begin their residency with a marathon concert performing all six of Béla Bartók’s string quartets.
Tuesday, March 15, 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall: The members of the Borromeo String Quartet will give a master class.
Wednesday, March 16, 7:30 p.m., Osher Salon: Paths Not Taken will be a lecture involving a rare presentation of quartet music by Bartók that was never published; these materials were loaned to the Borromeo by Bartók’s son Peter.
Thursday, March 17, 8 p.m., Concert Hall: The members of the Borromeo String Quartet will perform with SFCM students. As a follow-up to the preceding lecture, the major work will be another study of an early version of a major composition. Felix Mendelssohn’s Opus 20 octet in E-flat major will be performed in its original manuscript version. The program will also include Franz Schubert’s D. 897 nocturne for piano trio in E-flat major, Gustav Mahler’s A minor piano quartet, and Anton Webern’s “Langsamer Satz.”
SFCM is located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. Arrangements for tickets and may be made by calling the Box Office at 415-503-6275. The Box Office is located in the lobby of the SFCM building; and its regular hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday through Friday. In addition, every concert has its own event page on the SFCM Calendar Web site; and that event page includes a hyperlink when it is necessary to purchase tickets.