The 10th Biennial Chesapeake International Chamber Music Competition for Young Professionals will be held live on April 2, 2022, at 1 p.m. at the Ebenezer Theater in Easton, Maryland and live-streamed all day. This exciting daylong celebration of chamber music will feature five of the most distinguished young ensembles competing for the Lerman Gold ($10,000) and Silver ($5,000) prizes.
This year’s finalists come not only from the U.S. but also from Austria and Switzerland and have studied and prepared at distinguished schools and conservatories. The average age of an ensemble must be under 31, and some include members as young as 21. The applicants represent a wide range of instrumental combinations: winds, strings, brass, and mixed instruments, including percussion. The preliminary judging panel reported this to be a particularly talented group of young musicians. The five finalists are the Abeo Quartet from the University of Delaware, the Aero Quartet from Bloomington, Indiana, the Elless Quartet from the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Terra String Quartet from New York City, and Trio Colores from Zurich, Switzerland.
The Abeo Quartet is currently the inaugural Graduate String Quartet in Residence at the University of Delaware under the tutelage of the Calidore String Quartet. Formed at The Juilliard School in 2018, they have studied with members of the Alban Berg, Ebene, Takács, Artemis, Miro, Emerson, and Brentano Quartets. Most recently, the Abeo Quartet was selected as a finalist in the 2021 Young Concert Artists International Competition, and previous accolades include the silver medal winner of the 2019 Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition, among others. Abeo means “to bring joy” which is the aim of the quartet as they perform and engage with audiences across the country. The Abeo Quartet is compelled to integrate their music with the societal issues that grip humanity today while transmitting their love for chamber music to a wide variety of audiences both inside and outside of the concert hall.
The Aero Quartet has been praised by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Grammy-winning composer Augusta Read Thomas for their “nuanced, colorful, and artfully sculpted” chamber music interpretations for the saxophone. The quartet, from Bloomington, Indiana, has won numerous awards in chamber music competitions, including First Prizes at the New Orleans Chamber Festival, Music Teachers National Association, and Briggs Chamber Music Competitions. Most notably, Aero won the Gold Medal in the Senior Wind Division of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. In the fall of 2021, Aero completed a residency at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute in Boscawen, New Hampshire before embarking on a Midwest performance and educational outreach tour. The quartet conducted clinics for hundreds of middle and high school students in multiple states.
The Elless Quartet was formed in 2019 at the Cleveland Institute of Music and is comprised of violinists Emera Gurath and Megan Lin, violist Marcus Stevenson, and cellist Cecelia Swanson. They have performed in masterclasses given by members of the Emerson, Orion, Dover, and Miami String Quartets. In 2021, the ensemble was selected by members of Alban Berg and Artemis quartets and Director André Roy to participate at the prestigious McGill International String Quartet Academy (MISQA). The quartet was also the Grand Prize winner of the 7th Annual Coltman Chamber Music Competition. In addition, the members of the ensemble have participated in renowned music festivals such as the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, Meadowmount School of Music, the New York String Orchestra Seminar, and Saint Paul Chamber Music Institute.
The Terra String Quartet is a vibrant young ensemble based in New York City. Hailing from five continents, these four musicians share a mission to perform chamber music with intellectual and emotional vitality. The quartet has performed in such venues as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. They have also been featured on WQXR’s Midday Masterpieces. They have attended festivals including Four Seasons Chamber Music’s Winter Workshop and have collaborated with artists such as Robert McDonald, Natasha Brofsky, Catherine Cho, and the Cremona Quartet. The Terra String Quartet is represented by Le Dimore del Quartetto in Italy, Si-Yo Music Foundation in NJ/NY and is the first quartet to have been chosen to pursue the Four Seasons Chamber Music String Quartet Fellowship at East Carolina University.
Trio Colores hails from both Austria and Switzerland. Its members, Matthias Kessler, Luca Stafffelbach, and Fabian Ziegler, connect a longstanding passion for percussion with a visible joy in performing music. Playing as an ensemble since 2017, the repertoire of the trio spreads over a large spectrum of 20th-century percussion masterpieces by Iannis Xenakis, Steve Reich, and John Cage alongside works by living composers such as Ivan Trevino, Emmanuel Séjourné, and Theirry de Mey. Their knowledge of classical and contemporary music, combined with their interest in challenging the traditional boundaries of modern music, results in creative, ambitious, and uniquely arranged concert programs. The Trio shares with audiences both the versatility of percussion instruments and the fascinating always growing new timbres they provide.
It takes a dedicated and experienced group of musicians to make great decisions about young talent and the Competition’s two panels are no exception. The preliminary judges, responsible for selecting the finalists, conduct blind evaluations based only on an audio performance included in the application. The finalist judges watch the live performance on April 2 and select the prize winners at the end of the evening. Over the past 20 years, they have proven their expertise as many of the winners and finalists have gone on to illustrious careers.
The two judging panels are chaired by Chesapeake Music’s artistic directors, Marcy Rosen and Catherine Cho. Preliminary judges include Marcy Rosen (head), Tara Helen O’Connor, Daniel Phillips, and Ieva Jokubaviciute. Finalist judges include Catherine Cho (head), Diane Walsh, and Peggy Pearson.
The Competition will begin at 1 p.m. on April 2 and last all day with prizes announced following the final performance before 9:00 pm. There will be Sunday afternoon concerts on April 3 by the ensembles at the following locations: Aero Quartet (4 p.m. – Christ Church, Cambridge), Trio Colores (2 p.m. – St. Marks United Methodist Church, Easton), Elless Quartet (2 p.m. – Temple B’nai Israel, Easton), Terra String Quartet (3 p.m. – Holy Trinity, Oxford), and Abeo Quartet (private concert given by Competition Benefactor).
Visit the website chesapeakemusic.org/competition for further information. The Competition is a program of Chesapeake Music. Tickets for this all-day extravaganza are available online. The cost is $20 for the entire day. Children are admitted free but must obtain a ticket at no charge. For those who cannot attend, live streaming will be available at $5 per household. The recording will be available both the day of the performance and for the week following. For further information about attending the Competition events, visit chesapeakemusic.org/competition or call 410-819-0380.
The Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition is underwritten by the Talbot County Arts Council, the Maryland State Arts Council, and private benefactors.