Avalon String Quartet at Mendelssohn Hall Feb. 21

The Avalon String Quartet are, from left, Anthony Devroye, viola; Cheng-Hou Lee, cello; Marie Wang, violin; and Blaise Magniere, violin.
The Avalon String Quartet are, from left, Anthony Devroye, viola; Cheng-Hou Lee, cello; Marie Wang, violin; and Blaise Magniere, violin.

Staff Report

The Avalon String Quartet will perform at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21, at Mendelssohn Hall, 406 N. Main St., Rockford.

This performance will feature Haydn’s String Quartet Op 20 No. 6 in A Major, Bartok’s String Quartet No. 5 and Dvorak’s Piano Quintet Op. 81 in A Major with guest pianist Meng-Chieh Liu. This talented group will visit Mendelssohn once more during the 2013-14 concert season Friday, May 23, at 7 p.m.

Described by the Chicago Tribune as “an ensemble that invites you — ears, mind and spirit — into its music,” the Avalon String Quartet has established itself as one of the country’s leading chamber music ensembles. After residencies at the Julliard School and Indiana University South Bend, Avalon 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.

In 2010, the quartet released a CD of contemporary American works on the Albany label to much critical acclaim. The Avalon Quartet’s debut CD, Dawn to Dusk, including the Ravel and the Janacek Second Quartets, was honored with the 2002 Chamber Music America/WQXR Record Award for best chamber music recording.

The quartet’s live performances and conversation are frequently featured on Chicago’s WFMT-FM, including a recent nationally-syndicated live broadcast of Exploring Music with Bill MacGlaughlin. They have also been heard on New York’s WQXR-FM and WNYC-FM, National Public Radio’s Performance Today, Canada’s CBC, Australia’s ABC, the ARD of Germany and France Musique.

A recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, Meng-Chieh Liu first made headlines in 1993 as a 21-year-old student at The Curtis Institute of Music when he substituted at last-minute’s notice for Andre Watts at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. The concert earned high acclaim from critics and audiences alike. The stellar beginning of his career was abruptly halted by a rare and debilitating illness that affected his connective tissues. As he was hospitalized and almost immobile for a year, doctors believed his chances for survival were slim, and should he survive, playing the piano would be “absolutely impossible.” With arduous determination and relentless physical therapy, Liu has been restored to full health and is now once again performing on the concert state.

Since then, he has performed throughout the world as a soloist in recitals and with orchestras under conductors Christoph Eschenbach, Gustavo Dudamel and Alan Gilbert. A sought-after musician and strong advocate of chamber music, Liu performs in music festivals across the globe and has worked with international musicians Shmuel Ashkenasi, David Soyer, Bernard Greenhoue, Janes Buswell, Wendy Warner as well as the Borromeo and St. Lawrence quartets.

Liu joined Chicago Chamber Musicians in the fall of 2009, and now serves as co-artistic director of the ensemble, where performances have already been acclaimed for his “faultless, discreetly balanced pianism.”

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and can be purchased online at www.mendelssohnpac.org, by calling (815) 964-9713, or at the door. All seating is first come, first served.

From the Feb. 19-25, 2014, issue

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