Acclaimed string quartet to open 12th season of Music Series at Akin

Escher Quartet returns to MSU Texas

The 12th season of Midwestern State University’s Music Series at Akin begins with the return visit of 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. 11, 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 Brendan Speltz complete the quartet.

Barnett-Hart is the great-grandson of former Wichita Falls Times and Record News owner Rhea Howard and nephew of former 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 Orchestra. 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.

Cellist Brook 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.

Violinist Brendan Speltz has toured the globe with groundbreaking ensembles such as Shuffle Concert, the Manhattan Chamber Players, A Far Cry, and the Harlem Quartet. He has performed in established professional chamber music series, including the Los Angeles-based Pacific Serenades and the South Bay Chamber Music Society. He has also performed on various New York television networks, including NBC New York, Fox & Friends on Fox News, and ABC’s “The View.”

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 Beethoven String Quartet op. 18, no. 6; Janacek String Quartet no. 2; and Brahms C minor String Quartet.

The Music Series at Akin’s next guests will be the Dover Quartet on Feb. 7, 2023. The quartet of Joel Link, violin; Bryan Lee, violin; Hezekiah Leung, viola; and Camden Shaw, cello, have been called one of the greatest string quartets of the last 100 years by BBC Music Magazine.

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 of 2012 and since has since hosted many notable musicians.

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 performance or $36 for season tickets. Tickets for MSU faculty and staff are $15 or $24 for season tickets.