ASU's prestigious string quartet has spent the last few weeks exploring the works of Beethoven and Schumann in the hope of spreading its music within the ASU community.
The Herberger Quartet is a four-piece string performance group for graduate students in the School of Music. The quartet awards each member a scholarship, and each position is highly competitive, requiring a professor recommendation and an audition.
This year’s quartet consists of cellist Yeil Park, violinists Aihua Zhang and Vladmir Gebe and violist Yen-Fang Chen. Each member of the group has been playing their instrument for more than 10 years; Aihua Zhang has the most experience, as she has been playing the violin for over 29 years.
While the group is usually only together for two years before new members are allowed in, quartet member Zhang said that they enjoyed working together, so the faculty at ASU gave the group an extra year to perform together.
“This is the third year for me and our violist Yen-Fang Chen and the second year for Vladimir and Yeil in the quartet,” she said. “Usually this position is only for two years, but we enjoy our group very much, and we play together a lot both on campus and off campus. We also went to the music festival as a pre-group. Therefore, the string faculty offered Yen-Fang and me one extra year for the sake of the consistency of the group.”
The group members spends a lot of time together preparing for their concert, and through this they have been able to form strong bonds with one another. Chen said the best part about being in the quartet is the musical interaction between members.
“I think music is all about communication,” she said. “Not only do we play for our audience the masterpieces we've been working on, but we also have the interaction between quartet members, such as exchanging musical ideas, discussing the compositional style, as well as providing feedback for each other.”
Quartet cellist Park said he likes being a part of the Herberger Quartet because of the opportunities it provides.
“There's a lot to like about being in the quartet, from working with both the incredible faculty here at the School of Music and the guest artists who have come through our Visiting Quartet Program Residency, such as the Ying Quartet this year and the Brentano String Quartet the previous year,” Park said. “Above all though, I really enjoy everyone in our quartet on a personal level. I consider everyone in the group a good friend of mine, and it's difficult to have many long rehearsals without cracking jokes and laughing at and with each other.”
Because the group has been working together for quite some time, and members said the audience will be able to hear how attuned the members are to one another. Park said that the group will be performing pieces that showcase its musical style and will be highly enjoyable for the audience.
“We are playing two beautiful quartets: an early Beethoven String Quartet Op. 18 no. 6, and Schumann's Quartet no. 1 in A minor,” he said. “Both pieces work well for us because everyone in the group has a gorgeous sound that blends well with each other. Between the two works, there's a lot of style, passion and flair for everyone to enjoy.”
For a chance to see the Herberger Quartet in action, students and faculty can join them in the Recital Hall on the Tempe campus from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Park said the groups goal is to share their stories with the help of music.
“To be honest, I'm just humbled that people take time off of their busy lives to hear us make music,” he said. “Of course, music is our career path and we spend countless hours trying to master our craft, but we all ultimately do it because it's incredibly fun and thrilling to create live art. It's a privilege for us to share our story through sound, and we look forward to playing some incredible music Wednesday night.”
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