Avalon String Quartet presents ‘Meltzer and Smetana’ Feb. 15

The Avalon String Quartet will perform “Meltzer and Smetana” at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15, at Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center’s Emerson Auditorium, 415 N. Church St., Rockford. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Staff Report

Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center will present the Avalon String Quartet in concert with “Meltzer and Smetana” at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15, in Mendelssohn PAC’s Emerson Auditorium, 415 N. Church St., Rockford. A reception will follow the concert in the auditorium.

Avalon String Quartet will open their concert with “Aqua,” a string quartet musical piece written by New York composer Harold Meltzer. “Aqua” is inspired by the Aqua Tower, a tall beauty in downtown Chicago with undulating balconies that has become an instant architectural celebrity since its completion in 2009. Meltzer got the idea for the piece after seeing photographs of Aqua in 2010 in The New Yorker.

I was instantly mesmerized,” Meltzer said. “I kept looking at the pictures.”

Meltzer saw Aqua in person for the first time in April 2011, and that is when Avalon String Quartet performed “Aqua” for the first time in Chicago, as part of the ensemble’s American Voices concert at the Merit School of Music.

According to Meltzer, the composition takes its cues from the building’s designs and the “amazing way the line of the building is mediated by all those undulations.

There is a series of ‘curves’ in the first part of the piece,” Meltzer added. “The second piece is one big curve — like seeing one of those [balconies] up close.”

The second portion of this concert will feature works from 19th-century Czech composer Bedøich Smetana. Smetana is regarded by some as the father of Czech music and is best known for his opera, The Bartered Bride.

The Avalon String Quartet, one of the country’s leading string ensembles, was formerly in residence at Juilliard School and Indiana University, and is now in residence at Northern Illinois University. The quartet features Blaise Magniere, violin; Marie Wang, violin; Anthony Devroye, viola; and Cheg-Hou Lee, cello.

During the 2011-2012 concert season, the Avalon String Quartet presented a six-concert series of Beethoven’s string quartets for the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased online at www.mendelssohnpac.org or by calling (815) 964-9713. A season subscription for the three-concert series is available.

From the Feb. 13-19, 2013, issue

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