Cassatt String Quartet returning for residency

New York-based Cassatt String Quartet will offer its 12th annual Cassatt in the Basin! with a combined Midland-Odessa residency April 22 through April 27.

The residencies aim to give Basin-area students the opportunity to study with artist-teachers, develop chamber music and orchestra skills, chamber music audiences of the future, and focus on daily chamber music coaching, as well as lecture demonstrations.

The quartet includes Muneko Otani, violin, Jennifer Leshnower, violin, Ah Ling Neu, viola and Elizabeth Anderson, cello. Leshnower is a Permian High School graduate and a former member of the Thouvenel String Quartet, formerly in residence with the Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale, a news release said.

Additionally, this residency, Cassatt in the Basin! will include the Lubbock Youth Orchestra for a special chamber music coaching session from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 22 at the Allison Fine Arts Building at Midland College, 3600 N. Garfield St. in Midland.

Composer Lawrence Dillon wrote “Brio” for triple quartet, which fits into the concept of the final concert on April 26 at the Ellen Noel Art Museum, 4909 E. University Blvd., with the Cassatts and the students.

Dillon creates music that embraces the moment with a deep connection to the past and an open-minded curiosity about the future, a news release said. Despite losing 50 percent of his hearing in early childhood, Dillon began composing as soon as he started piano lessons at the age of 7.

In 1985, he became the youngest composer to earn a doctorate at The Juilliard School, and was immediately appointed to the Juilliard faculty. He is now composer in residence at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He is a two-time winner of the North Carolina Artist Fellowship, the highest honor accorded to artists in the state, the release said.

The Cassatt String Quartet was the first quartet chosen for Juilliard’s Young Artists Quartet Program.

Since then, they have performed at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood Music Theater, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Theatre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, the Beijing Central Conservatory in China and for Queen Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee Celebration in London. At the Library of Congress, the Cassatts performed on the library’s matched quartet of Stradivarius instruments, and they performed the three complete Beethoven Quartet cycles at the University at Buffalo.

The Cassatt String Quartet has been heard on NPR’s Performance Today, Boston’s WGBH, and New York’s WQXR and WNYC. They have 30 recordings, and were named three times to Alex Ross’ 10 best classical recordings of the year in The New Yorker Magazine.

The quartet is named for the celebrated American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt.

The Cassatt String Quartet, from left, Ah Ling Neu, viola, Elizabeth Anderson, cello, Jennifer Leshnower and Muneko Otani, violins.

Photo by Anna Ablogina

Concert Schedule

April 22

  • 3 p.m. April 22, Midland College, Allison Fine Arts Building, Wagner Brown Auditorium, 3600 N. Garfield, Midland. Cassatt String Quartet Concert featuring works by Melinda Wagner, Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin and Alexander Borodin.

April 24

  • 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. April 24 at Parks Assisted Living, 111 Parks Village Drive, Odessa. Cassatt String Quartet “Outreach” performance.
  • From 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. April 24 at City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St., Odessa. Cassatt String Quartet performance for “Arts Appreciation Week.” Free and open to the public, with a reception organized by Odessa Arts.

April 25

  • 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Midland College, Choral Room in Allison Fine Arts Building, 3600 N. Garfield St., Midland. Cassatt String Quartet “Outreach” lecture/demo.

April 26

  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., April 26, Ellen Noël Art Museum, 4909 E. University Blvd., Odessa. Final student concert with Permian, Midland and Odessa high schools and the Cassatt String Quartet featuring Lawrence Dillon’s “Brio” for Triple String Quartet.
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