Acclaimed string quartet to open seventh season of Music Series at Akin

Acclaimed string quartet to open seventh season of Music Series at Akin

The seventh season of Midwestern State University's Music Series at Akin begins with an internationally acclaimed string quartet with a Wichita Falls connection. The Escher Quartet, praised for both individual and ensemble technical proficiency, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, in Akin Auditorium.

Violist Pierre Lapointe and violinist Adam Barnett-Hart founded the Escher String Quartet in 2005, and soon after were recognized for work ethic and instrumentalism. Critics also compared them to another celebrated group - the Emerson String Quartet - who were guests for the Music Series at Akin in October 2015. Cellist Brook Speltz and violinist Danbi Um complete the quartet.

Barnett-Hart is the great-grandson of former Wichita Falls Times and Record News owner Rhea Howard, and nephew of editor Charles Ward and advertising director Ed Barnett. He made his debut with the Juilliard Symphony at age 19 and has since performed with symphonies across the country, including the Wichita Falls symphony. He won the top prize in the 2001 and 2002 Irving M. Klein Competition in San Francisco. Barnett-Hart is a touring member of the International Sejong Soloists, a string orchestra renowned for its style, precision, and diverse performances.

Lapointe has played with artists in venues around the world. He earned a doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music, then received a prize from the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec for his work at the Gatineau Music Conservatory. Since 2010, Lapointe has played on a viola designed and made by luthier Christophe Landon.

Speltz is a sought after chamber musician who has collaborated with Itzhak Perlman and Richard Goode. He also performs with Break of Reality, a rock cello group whose video cover of the Game of Thrones theme has been viewed more than 17 million times on YouTube. He performs on a 1756 J.C. Gigli on loan from his father, also a cellist.

Um has appeared as soloist with the Israel Symphony, Vermont Symphony, and Dartmouth Symphony, and in venues such as the Kennedy Center. She is a winner of Astral Artists' 2015 National Auditions, and is a member of Chamber Music Society Two of Lincoln Center. She plays on a 1683 "ex-Petschek" Nicolo Amati violin, on loan from a private collection.

All the members have collaborated with noted musicians, including jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman, vocalist Kurt Elling, and legendary Latin artist Paquito D'Rivera. They tour regularly with Grammy Award-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux. In 2013, they became one of the few chamber ensembles to be awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.

The quartet takes its name from Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher. They were inspired by Escher's method of interplay between individual components working together to form a whole and felt it reflected the relationships of sounds they wanted to create.

The program includes Mozart's "String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat Major, K. 458, The Hunt;" Thomas AdÞs' "Arcadiana, Op. 12;" and "String Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 27" by Edvard Grieg.

After the Wichita Falls stop, the quartet will perform with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York City, then tour Germany and the United Kingdom through November. 

The Music Series at Akin's next guests will be the Montrose Trio on Feb. 16, 2018. The trio - Jon Kimura Parker, piano; Martin Beaver, violin; Clive Greensmith, cello - formed in 2013 and has established itself as one of the top piano trios in the world. Each member has performed as a soloist with orchestras around the world. 

The concert is sponsored by the Perkins-Prothro Foundation and Joe and Dale Prothro with the Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts at MSU. The series debuted in spring 2012 with pianist Yefim Bronfman, who accompanied famed violinist Itzhack Perlman at the Kennedy Center Honors performance late last year. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and pianist Inon Barnatan, Alessio Bax, Lucille Chung, the Faure Quartett, among other notable musicians, also have been guests of the series. 

Tickets may be purchased by contacting the MSU Music Department at 940-397-4267, or visiting msufineartstickets.com. Cash or check payments may be mailed to Music Series at Akin, MSU Department of Music, 3410 Taft Blvd., Wichita Falls, Texas 76308. General admission tickets are $25 for each performance or $40 for season tickets. Tickets for senior citizens and military are $23 for each or $36 for season tickets. Tickets for MSU faculty and staff are $15 or $24 for season tickets.