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Morrison Artists’ Series:
Kopelman Quartet Makes West Coast Debut

College of Creative Arts


Ariane Bicho, Publicist
College of Creative Arts
San Francisco State University
(415) 338-1442
(415) 338-0520 fax

Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs


San Francisco -- Riding on rave reviews from its summer tour in Europe, the Kopelman Quartet makes its West Coast debut at the McKenna Theatre Sunday, October 12 at 3 pm. Headed by legendary violinist Mikhail Kopelman, formerly of the celebrated Borodin Quartet, the ensemble brings together the prodigy and passion of four masters steeped in the Russian tradition of vibrant, commanding, emotionally complex quartets. All four players attended the prestigious Moscow Conservatory, where their teachers included composer Dmitri Shostakovich and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and enjoyed long tenures in respected European quartets and trios before forming the Kopelman Quartet in 2002.

The Kopelmans will perform Schubert’s String Quartet No. 12 (Quartettsatz) and No. 14 (Death and the Maiden), and Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 3.

The group is among the world’s foremost interpreters of Shostakovich’s string music. Two members, Boris Kushnir and Igor Solyga, collaborated with the composer on his final quartets, while Kopelman for 20 years led the Borodin Quartet, famed for producing, among other achievements, some of the most accurate and informed readings of Shostakovich.

When his third string quartet premiered in 1946, Shostakovich, considered the heavyweight of 20th century Russian composers, straddled patriotism and defiance, reflecting the grim cultural politics of Stalin’s rule. Even though he was revered in his day as an icon of Soviet cultural achievement, eventually becoming the U.S.S.R.’s composer laureate, Shostakovich bristled under continuing pressure to write music that suited the nationalism and “social realist” aesthetics of the Soviet regime. He often responded by writing works that were overtly patriotic, but also laced with abject sadness, mockery and struggle. Occupying a lower profile than symphonies, string quartets offered him a fertile medium for exploring more original and personally gratifying compositions, and he reportedly used quartets for channeling his most subversive material.

Franz Schubert’s string quartets are known for their poetic qualities and at times carry an air of improvisation. Like Shostakovich’s work, the quartets cover a vast emotional and thematic range and contain numerous unexpected turns. Schubert never finished his String Quartet No. 12, known as Quartettsatz (Quartet Movement), but it became one of his best-loved pieces thanks to its strident and visionary lyricism. Death and the Maiden, said to reflect his mounting fatalism amid illness, creates a more brooding, tumultuous experience, and is his most famous piece of chamber music.


Bringing Bay Area audiences the world’s finest chamber music since 1952, the Morrison Artists’ Series was created as part of the Morrison Chamber Music Center. The center exists in two parts: the artists’ series or concert program and the instructional program. The Morrison Artists’ Series concert program, under the command of Artistic Director Saul Gropman, presents six free Sunday afternoon performances each year by acclaimed chamber music ensembles in the 700-seat McKenna Theatre on the San Francisco State University campus. The instructional program of the Morrison Chamber Music Center features the Alexander String Quartet, SFSU’s quartet-in-residence, coaching chamber musicians from the University’s School of Music and Dance. In cooperation with San Francisco Performances, the Alexander String Quartet provides educational outreach to aspiring young musicians in local schools and community groups.

Admission and Parking
Admission to the Morrison Artists’ Series is always free. Nearby on-street parking is readily available on weekends. Public parking is also available in Lot 20 on the SFSU Campus, which can be accessed from Lake Merced Boulevard between Winston Drive and Font Boulevard. Parking in the lot is $1 per hour with a $5 daily maximum. For more information, see

The Morrison Artists’ Series is a program of the College of Creative Arts and its School of Music and Dance at San Francisco State University. For more information about the College of Creative Arts, please visit Applications are available by calling the SFSU Admissions Office at 415/338-1113.


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Last modified September 24, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs