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American String Quartet 


Internationally recognized as one of the world's finest quartets, the American String Quartet has  spent decades honing the luxurious sound for which it is famous. The Quartet celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2019, and, in its years of touring, has performed in all fifty states and has appeared in the most important concert halls worldwide.  The group’s presentations of the complete quartets of Beethoven, Schubert, Schoenberg, Bartók, and Mozart have won widespread critical acclaim, and  their MusicMasters Complete Mozart String Quartets, performed on a matched quartet set of  instruments by Stradivarius, are widely considered to have set the standard for this repertoire.


Recent seasons featured performances of the Quartet’s major project together with the National Book Award-winning author Phil Klay and the poet Tom Sleigh, which offers a groundbreaking  program combining music and readings that examines the effects of war. The Quartet also collaborated with the renowned author Salman Rushdie in a work for narrator and quartet by the film composer Paul Cantelon built around Rushdie’s novel The Enchantress of Florence. These  tremendously imaginative collaborations cement the American String Quartet’s reputation as one of the most adventurous and fearless string quartets performing today, as comfortable with the  groundbreaking as with the traditional.


The Quartet's diverse activities have also included numerous international radio and television  broadcasts, including a recent recording for the BBC; tours of Asia; and performances with the New  York City Ballet, the Montreal Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Recent highlights include performances of an all-sextet program with Roberto and Andrès Díaz, many tours of South America, and performances of the complete Beethoven cycle of string quartets at the Cervantes Festival in  Mexico and the Tel Aviv Museum in Israel.


The American’s additional extensive discography can be heard on the Albany, CRI, MusicMasters, Musical Heritage Society, Nonesuch, and RCA labels. Most recently the group released "Schubert's  Echo," which pairs Schubert's monumental last quartet with works bearing its influence by Second  Viennese masters Alban Berg and Anton Webern. This repertoire posits  that the creative line from  the First to the Second Viennese Schools is continuous ʹ and evident when these works are heard in  the context of each other.


As champions of new music, the American has given numerous premieres, including George Tsontakis’s Quartet No. 7.5, “Maverick,” Richard Danielpour’s Quartet No. 4, and Curt Cacioppo’s a distant voice calling͘. The premiere of Robert Sirota’s American Pilgrimage was performed around the U.S. in the cities the work celebrates.  The Quartet premiered Tobias Picker’s String Quartet No. 2 in New York City in celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Manhattan School of Music.


Formed when its original members were students at The Juilliard School, the American String Quartet’s career began with the group winning both the Coleman Competition and the Naumburg Award in the same year.  Resident quartet at the Aspen Music Festival since 1974 and at the  Manhattan School of Music in New York since 1984, the American has also served as resident quartet  at the Taos School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, and the Van Cliburn International Piano  Competition.


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Harpist Mariko Anraku is hailed as "a manifestation of grace and elegance" (Jerusalem Post) and has enchanted audiences throughnumerous appearances as soloist, as well as chamber and orchestral musician. The New York Times has hailed her as a "masterful artist of intelligence and wit".


Since 1995, she has held the position of Associate Principal Harpist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Since her debut as soloist with the Toronto Symphony led by Sir Andrew Davis, Ms. Anraku has appeared with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the ViennaChamber Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony, Yomiuri Symphony Orchestra, Concerto Soloists ofPhiladelphia, among others. As a recitalist, she has performed in major concert halls on three continents, including Weill Recital Hallat Carnegie Hall and Markin Concert Hall in New York, Jordan Hall in Boston, Bing Theater at the LA County Museum, The OperaComique in Paris, the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, the Casals, Kioi and Oji Halls in Tokyo, The Shanghai Oriental Arts Center among many others.


Ms. Anraku's impressive list of awards include First Prize at the First Nippon Harp Competition, First Prize, the Channel ClassicsRecording Prize and the ITT Corporation Prize at the Concert Artists Guild Competition in New York, and the Pro Musicis Foundation International Award.

She was also awarded Third Prize and the Pearl Chertok Prize for the best performance of the required Israeli composition at the 11thInternational Harp Contest in Israel.


Ms. Anraku's strong commitment to contemporary music and the expansion of boundaries of the harp repertoire has included aninvitation to premiere works by Toshio Hosokawa at the Donaueschingen Musiktage in Germany, the Wien Modern in Austria, andfestivals in Tubinger and Cologne, Germany, collaborating with traditional Japanese musicians and monks.

Ms. Anraku also gave the USA premiere of Jean-Michel Damase's Concerto "Ballade" with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra at the American Harp Society Conference. She has also collaborated in a ''Tribute to Takemitsu" performance at Merkin Concert Hall in New York.


An active chamber musician, Ms. Anraku has performed at the Spoleto, Tanglewood, Newport and Bridgehampton Chamber MusicFestivals in the USA, The Banff Centre and the Festival of Sound in Canada, the Spoleto Festival in Italy, and the Karuizawa andTakefu Music Festivals, among others in Japan. She has also performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Harvard MusicAssociation, and Columbia University, and has collaborated with artists including clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and flutists Emmanuel Pahud, Carol Wincenc, Paula Robison, Emily Beynon, Michael Parloff, Marina Piccinini, Stefan Ragnar Hoskuldsson and Denis Bouriakov.


Ms. Anraku has recorded exclusively for EMI Classics, including three solo recordings and "Beau Soir" a collaboration with eminent flutist Emmanuel Pahud. "Music for Harp", a compilation from her solo CDs is also available.


Ms. Anraku is a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music and The Pacific Music Festival (PMF). She is a devoted teacher,deeply committed to the mentoring and development of young musicians and has given masterclasses at The Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, Peabody Institute, The Glenn Gould chool, Conservatorium Maastricht, The Central


Conservatory and China Institute of Music in Beijing, The Shanghai Conservatory of Music etc. She is often invited to be a jury member at local and international competitions.


She holds Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from The Juilliard School and is a recipient of an Artist's Diploma from The Glenn GouldSchool in Toronto. Her teachers have included Judy Loman, Nancy Allen, Lanalee deKant and her aunt Kumiko Inoue. Ms. Anrakualso studied Oriental Art History at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, and enjoys playing community service concerts at hospitals, drug rehabilitation centers, prisons and other venues.

American String Quartet & Mariko Anraku, Harp


(Performance Insights  @ 1 pm)

Bethel United Methodist Church

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