Veteran musicians depart

two members of the yale school of Music’s quartet-in-residence, the tokyo string Quartet, will retire in June 2013.
two members of the yale school of Music’s quartet-in-residence, the tokyo string Quartet, will retire in June 2013. Photo by Akbar Ahmed.

After 30 years at the School of Music, two veteran musicians will leave the academic world ofYale to focus on their personal careers.

The School of Music announced Tuesday that violist Kazuhide Isomura and second violinist Kikui Ikeda of the Tokyo String Quartet, the school’s quartet-in-residence, will retire in June 2013. Their departures will mark the last members of the original quartet — which became affiliated with Yale in 1976 — to leave the University.

Until their departure, Isomura and Ikeda will continue to teach student ensembles and perform with their ensembleat Yale at least once a semester, a contribution that Dana Astmann, the manager of concerts and public relations at the school, said has been a boon to the music community on campus.

“We are a performance-centric school,” Astmann said. Therefore, having professionals work intensively with student chamber ensembles is important to the curriculum, she added.

The New York-based Tokyo String Quartet has won praise the world over for its skill and passion, School of Music Dean Robert Blocker said in an email. Since its founding in 1969, the Tokyo String Quartet has released over 30 records, has won coveted recording awards like the Grand Prix du Disque Montreux and has been nominated for several Grammy awards.

As part of its residency, the quartet also participates in the Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Carol Jackson, associate administrator at the Festival, said that the Norfolk program values its longstanding relationship with the Quartet.

“They are wonderful teachers and a significant part of the Festival,” Jackson said.

Clare Monfredo ’13, who attended the Norfolk Festival this past summer, said Isomura and Ikeda stood out to her because of their knowledge of and experience in the chamber music field.

“They told us really cool [stories],” Monfredo said, recalling an anecdote Ikeda told her about working as a backup performer for Johnny Cash in Tennessee while raising money to pay for his Juilliard education.

Isomura and Ikeda will now move on to focus on their own professional careers, Astmann said. Though she said they will likely continue to teach, she said she is unsure whether either or both will continue to be associated with Yale.

Isomura and Ikeda could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

There is a precedent for departing artists to maintain theirrelationships with Yale, Astmann said. Peter Oundjian, who worked as first violinist with the Tokyo String Quartet from 1981 to 1995, remains a faculty member at the School of Music while alsoteaching and conducting for the Yale Philharmonic Orchestra.

This will be the sixth change in membershipfor the Tokyo String Quartet since its inception in 1969.The other quartet members who originally came to Yale have gone down their own different paths.

Original first violinist Koichiro Harada moved back to Tokyo after leaving the quartet and Yale in 1981 and now teaches at the Toho Gakuen School of Music while also performing with various orchestras. Cellist Sadao Harada, who left the quartet after 31 years in the chamber ensemble and 24 at Yale, is now a professor at the Staatliche Musikhochschule in Trossingen, Germany and regularly performs at international music festivals.

The remaining members of the quartet once Isomura and Ikeda quit the group in 2013 will be first violinist Martin Beaver and cellist Clive Greensmith.

The search for a new second violinist and violist has yet to begin, Astmann said.

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