The Parker Quartet, in its second season as Quartet in Residence with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, is currently on tour for the Troubadour Series at Minnesota Public Radio with a stop in Bemidji that includes master classes for young musicians, a chamber concert and a post-concert discussion with the audience.
"We invited the Parker Quartet into our studios and were immediately taken with not just how well they played, but their passion for the music and communicating to the audience," said Brian Newhouse, senior producer for MPR. "Here are four 20-somethings who have already been together for seven or eight years, committing themselves to the life of a string quartet. The New York Times said they were 'something extraordinary' and we couldn't agree more. We're so glad to be able to present them around our broadcast region!"
And now, Kristie Booth at MPR, in partnership with Bemidji State University, and business sponsor, First National Bank Bemidji, is bringing this group to Bemidji at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, in Thompson Recital Hall of the Bangsberg Fine and Performing Arts Center on the campus of BSU, 14th Street and Birchmont Drive Northeast.
The Parker Quartet chose its name from the landmark Parker House hotel in Boston where literati like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Ralph Waldo Emerson gathered. All the musicians are graduates of the New England Conservatory of Music where they were part of the Professional String Quartet Training Program. They all hold graduate degrees in performance and chamber music. The quartet was founded at the NECM and for two years were NECM's Honors Ensemble. Three members of the group are from the United States and one member, Kim Kee-Hyun, is from Seoul, Korea. Their reputation is international as they continue to play in non-traditional venues along with such known halls as Lincoln Center in New York City to the Tongyeong Festival in South Korea.
The group also seeks opportunities to perform in collaborative concerts with jazz and folk musicians from around the world. Such concerts take them to clubs and bars in larger cities; venues not normally receptive to classical string quartets.
Evan Hazard, a retired BSU biology professor, was the classical music announcer at KBSB, the college's radio station for almost a decade. He is known for having played Haydn and Rossini tapes while teaching freshman biology. He said string quartets are his favorite musical ensembles. Hazard said the Parker Quartet has the potential to reach the vaulted status of the Lindsay String Quartet.
Classical MPR host Steve Staruch will accompany the quartet and give program notes before the concert, as well as moderate a question-and-answer period following the conclusion of the musical portion of the event. The Parker Quartet's residency with Classical Minnesota Public Radio is sponsored in part by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, created by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment.
Tickets are available now by calling 755-2915. MPR members will receive a discount from the adult price of $20 per ticket. Student price is $5.