From Carnegie Hall to Ashland

Quartets by Mozart, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and Haydn will highlight two performances by the Kuss Quartet this weekend in the Music Recital Hall at Southern Oregon University.

A Berlin-based group, the Kuss Quartet features violinists Jana Kuss and Oliver Wille, violist William Coleman and cellist Mikayel Hakhnazaryan.

The quartet first came to prominence in 2002 with first prizes from the Deutscher Musikrat (German Music Council) and the ninth annual Premio Paolo Borciani — an international string quartet competition held in Reggio Emilia, Italy. A Borlotti-Buitoni Trust award for young artist followed in 2003, firmly establishing the Kuss Quartet among the elite of the world's string quartets.

The group's schedule now features venues such as New York City's Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, London's Wigmore Hall and the Philharmonie in its home city of Berlin. Other engagements include festivals in Scotland, Germany and Austria.

Chamber Music Concerts, an affiliate of the nonprofit Southern Oregon University Foundation that is dedicated to bringing world-class chamber music to the Rogue Valley, will present the Kuss Quartet, with shows set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, and 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Music Recital Hall on the SOU campus.

Friday's performance will feature Mozart's String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat major K. 458, nicknamed "The Hunt." It is the fourth of the Quartets dedicated to Haydn. It was completed in 1784 and is in four movements. The show also will feature Stravinsky's Three Pieces for String Quartet and Concertino and Tchaikovsky's Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11.

Saturday's concert includes Haydn's Quartet in C Major, Op. 20, No. 2; Kurtag's Officium breve in memoriam Andreae Szervánsky, Op. 28; and Beethoven's Quartet in F Major, Op. 135.

With a set of high artistic standards, the members of the Kuss Quartet reach beyond the audience of chamber-music aficionados.

They draw in new listeners by combining oral commentaires with the pieces selected for their performances, and with the help of Kulturradio, run by Berlin's regional public broadcasting station, the quartet appears regularly at the Watergate nightclub in the city's Kreuzberg area, performing composers such as Ligeti and Lachenmann for enthusiastic young audiences before turning the club over to the night's disc jockey.

With a fresh approach to the genre of the string quartet and its masterpieces, the quartet takes its audience on a voyage of discovery and rediscovery.

Tickets to the shows in Ashland cost $27 and $32, $5 for ages 22 and younger.

In addition to the concerts, the quartet will present an educational outreach program at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 19, and a master string class at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, in the SOU Music Recital Hall. Call 541-552-6154 or visit for information.

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