2017 was a big year for the Omer String Quartet, who will be performing in Kent County on Nov. 17 as part of the National Music Festival’s Resonance concert series.
Two years ago, the group won the top prizes at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and the Premio Paolo Borciani Competition in Italy. The musicians, Mason Yu and Erica Tursi, violins; Jinsun Hong, viola: and Alex Cox, cello, met and formed their quartet as students at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Of their New York debut at in 2018, a New York Times music critic touted their “poised, mature and ebullient” performance of Haydn’s String Quartet in C, opus 20, No. 2 and a “fearless rendering” of Beethoven’s complex Grosse Fuge. “These four musicians certainly rose to the occasion.”
For their Kent County program, the quartet will play Schubert’s “Quartet No. 10 in E-flat,” the “String Quartet No. 1 Kreutzer Sonata” by Leoš Janáček, and Beethoven’s “Quartet No 12 in E-flat, opus 127.” (The Janáček quartet is indirectly related to Beethoven’s famous “Kreutzer Sonata” for violin and piano via a Leo Tolstoy novella of the same name).
The performance will be Sunday, Nov. 17, 3 p.m., at St. Paul’s Parish Hall, 7579 Sandy Bottom Rd., Chestertown. Students from the National Music Festival’s Fiddlesticks! Youth Strings Program will be performing as the audience arrives.
Winning the Borciani Competition in 2017 was a major career boost for the group, Tursi said. It was an instance where having confidence in themselves paid off. “I think we learned at that competition specifically to just kind of tune out everything else and feel confident in what we have to say (musically) as a group and just say it.”
Since then, the quartet has held prestigious residencies – currently at the Yale School of Music and previously at the University of Maryland, where all four are completing their doctorates. At Yale, they are being mentored by the more experienced Brentano Quartet, the faculty quartet-in-residence at the Ivy League university.
That’s a position the Omer Quartet ultimately hopes to hold at a university, teaching and coaching the next generation of chamber musicians, as well as performing themselves.
If you’re wondering about the name, Omer, the group adopted it after being inspired by a work they saw in the Cleveland Art Museum during their student days – a video installation by Israeli artist Omer Fast. “His work left quite an impression on us,” Tursi said. Since then, the group discovered that Omer has other meanings.
“One in particular resonates with our group mission,” she explained. “Omer is a small portion of crop that farmers harvest and leave as an offering for those in need.” While at University of Maryland, the quartet created a concert series in the Washington, D.C. area for Music For Food, a musician-led initiative for local hunger relief.
“Through the series, we perform with guest musicians and volunteer with local food pantries to raise funds which support local hunger relief efforts. Our commitment to serving the community with music has been one of the most fulfilling experiences for us.”
Tickets to the Omer Quartet concert are $20 for adults and $5 for students with ID and children under 14.
For purchasers of a 2020 National Music Festival Combination Pass – on sale now – all of this season’s Resonance concerts are included as well as admission to the many ticketed performances during the Festival, May 31 – June 13.
The Resonance series will continue with the following concerts:
Jan. 12, Iona: Pan-Celtic music and dance from eight nations
Feb. 16, Cleveland Wind Trio: Works by Mozart, Canteloube and Villa-Lobos
March 22, Emily Daggett Smith: NMF Violin Mentor with Constantine Finehouse, piano
April 26, Julia Mintzer: Mezzo-soprano, Washington National Opera, Semperoper Dresden
Except for the April season finale, all Resonance concerts this season will be Fireside Concerts – enjoy the warmth and crackle of the fireplace while listening to great music, and enjoy the refreshments and a chance to meet the artists at intermission!
Tickets may be ordered online at www.nationalmusic.us/events-and-tickets/tickets/ or at the door on the day of the event.
RES·O·NANCE /ˈrezənəns/ Noun: the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating … a quality of richness or variety.