New quartet to take residence at School of Music

Members of the Yale School of Music community will soon be exposed to a new perspective on chamber music.

The School of Music officially appointed the Brentano String Quartet as the school’s new quartet-in-residence earlier this month. Brentano’s predecessor, the Tokyo String Quartet, retired this year after 37 years of residence at the school. As quartet-in-residence, Brentano will teach students chamber music and perform one concert per semester. Brentano will also perform and teach at the Yale Summer School of Music. The quartet’s rich performance resume and diverse repertoire will enable the group to provide School of Music students with a thorough experience of chamber music, administrators at the school said.

“I am thrilled that [Brentano has] decided to join us at Yale, and I think that their contributions in their artistic activities and in their teaching responsibilities are going to be just first-rate,” said School of Music Dean Robert Blocker.

Along with extensive performance experience, Blocker said, members of the quartet will bring with them a new outlook on chamber music, adding that a goal of the school is to familiarize students with multiple ways of thinking about and performing music.

Director of the Yale Summer School of Music Paul Hawkshaw explained that Brentano’s 14-year residence at Princeton, where they taught and performed before coming to New Haven, will be an asset to the school’s community. Hawkshaw said he thinks the members of the quartet are approachable and easy to work with, which is vital to teaching a small group of people in a chamber music class. Tokyo String Quartet’s second violinist Kikuei Ikeda said Brentano’s dedication to teaching will help them successfully engage students in the classroom.

Brentano’s interest in playing 20th-century music corresponds well to the increasing student interest in repertoire from this century at the music school, Hawkshaw said.

School of Music Deputy Dean Melvin Chen said that Brentano’s interest in music outside the traditional string quartet repertoire will serve as a model for students pursuing classical music, as they will face a changing field in the coming years. Chen said he hopes Brentano will pass on their perspective on how classical music relates to society and other art forms.

“Great classical musicians, they never work in a vacuum,” Chen said. “They’re always influenced by everything else going on at the time in society.”

Chen explained that Brentano’s experience working hand in hand with professional and student composers will allow students at the School of Music to learn about the expectations professional quartets have of composers. He said Brentano is interested in interdisciplinary projects, which may lead to collaborations with the School of Art and School of Drama, adding that since the quartet’s first violinist Misha Amory ’89 attended Yale College, he imagines the quartet will also initiate projects with undergraduates.

“They’re enthusiastic about taking advantage of the awesome resources that the whole University has,” Chen said.

The Brentano String Quartet formed in 1992.

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