At today’s meeting Hickory Rotary enjoyed a performance by the renowned Kontras Quartet. Performers included Violinist Francois Henkins from South Africa, Violinist Dmitri Pogorelov from Russia, cellist Jean Hatmaker from Illinois (USA) and violist Ben Webber from Illinois (USA), (substituting for Ai Ishida from Japan). The Kontras Quartet is in the fourth and final year of residency with the Western Piedmont Symphony in Hickory, NC. The group will be the featured artists in the Friends of the Quartet Chamber Classics Series. Please read more below from the Kontras Quartet’s press release and marketing materials. To learn more about the Kontras Quartet, visit www.kontrasquartet.com.
With permission: Fanjoy Labrenz Photography & Western Piedmont Symphony
Lauded as “one of the most promising young quartets – technically excellent and musically compelling” (Shmuel Ashkenasi), the Kontras Quartet is a brilliant and invigorating string quartet whose members hail from South Africa, Russia, Japan and the USA. Highly in demand in both the concert hall and in classrooms of all ages, the Kontras Quartet delights audiences with their pre-concert conversations and diverse repertoire, which includes favorites from the established string quartet canon and colorful new works from each of their native countries. Kontras’ concert performances are regularly featured on classical public radio.
Biography for the 2013-2014 Season
Admired for their virtuosity, vibrancy and energy, the Kontras String Quartet is rapidly becoming one of the most sought after chamber groups on the scene. “Kontras”, which means “contrasts” in Afrikaans, is a fitting name for the unique ensemble comprised of artists from four different parts of the world: Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. It is this wonderful diversity that informs the group’s interest in music from Russia, South Africa, Japan, and the U.S. (the quartet members’ home countries), and inspires Kontras to present the traditional quartet literature in a new and unexpected light.
Formed while the group’s members were string principals in the Chicago Symphony’s Civic Orchestra, Kontras have enjoyed extensive training with the members of the famed Vermeer Quartet, and celebrated conductor and educator Cliff Colnot. Kontras enjoyed immediate recognition, winning their first musical contest only a half a year after the Quartet’s inception: the group outcompeted seasoned string quartets from around the country to become the Ensemble-in-Residence with the Western Piedmont Symphony, NC. This engagement led to numerous concert appearances throughout the southeastern states. Passionate about music education and outreach, Kontras has made a major impact on students of all ages in North Carolina, presenting over two hundred innovative, interactive, and educational performances and reaching over 40,000 children.
The Kontras Quartet’s recent performances include concerts at Chicago’s Symphony Center, Paul Recital Hall of the Juilliard School, television appearances on NBC and PBS, multiple broadcasts on classical radio stations nationwide, and a performance on the main stage of MerleFest, the largest bluegrass festival in the world.
Kontras was awarded a grant in early 2013 by Chamber Music America’s Classical Commissioning Program, with which the Quartet has commissioned Jens Kruger of the Kruger Brothers to write a new piece for Kontras. The grant was made possible with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.
For the 2013-2014 season, Kontras will also serve as Quartet-in-Residence with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, leading orchestra sectionals and giving masterclasses and workshops on chamber music and composition. Due to popular demand, Kontras has also been invited to return for a series of three two-week residencies with the Western Piedmont Symphony.
Before the Kontras Quartet performance began, the Hickory High School Honor Guard presented the colors in honor of our nation’s veterans and their service to our country.
Kontras Quartet was invited to join the Kruger Brothers and Steve Martin for a live performance on Late Night With David Letterman on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.