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Alexander String Quartet Pairs with Turtle Island String Quartet Closing a Golden 50th Anniversary Season,
Sunday, June 4 at McKenna Theatre


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


The 2005/06 season has featured a Gala Concert with special guest artist, guitar icon Kirk Hammett with FLUX and the St. Lawrence String Quartet; Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Piano Trio; David Krakauer's Klezmer Madness!; eighth blackbird with Soprano Lucy Shelton in Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, and the Juilliard String Quartet

SAN FRANCISCO, May 8, 2006 -- In its 2005-2006 season, the Morrison Artists Series, San Francisco's longest-running chamber music series, has celebrated 50 years of presenting, free of charge, the world's best chamber music to Bay Area audiences. Now, in the sixth and final concert of this unforgettable anniversary season, the Morrison continues to deliver the very best as the celebrated Alexander String Quartet pairs with the groundbreaking Turtle Island String Quartet at 3 pm, Sunday, June 4 at McKenna Theatre on the San Francisco State University campus. The program includes Ravel's Quartet in F Major; Milhaud's La Création du Monde; Mark Summer's Julie-O (cello duo); David Balakrishnan's Mara's Garden of False Delights, and Evan Price's Variations on an Unoriginal Theme.

Last week, the Alexander String Quartet returned to San Francisco after presenting a critically acclaimed five-concert survey of Shostakovich's complete string quartets at New York's Baruch Performing Arts Center. "I was engrossed by the eerie restraint, and, when called for, incisive attack of the Alexander's performances," said The New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini. Known for exacting musicianship and exceptional stylistic range, the Alexander String Quartet, SF State's quartet-in-residence, earns continued acclaim for its superlative performances throughout the country.

Equally at home with Beethoven and Bartok, the Alexander is keenly paired in this performance with the Turtle Island String Quartet. A syncopation of electric pulses, the Turtle Island String Quartet has made a science of jaw-dropping performance, with originals and arrangements spanning folk, bluegrass, swing, be-bop, funk, R&B, rock, hip-hop, as well as music of Latin America and India. Hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as "a unified voice that truly breaks new ground -- authentic and passionate -- a reflection of some of the most creative music-making today," the Turtle Island consistently delivers unexpected chills...and occasionally a backbeat.

The Morrison Artists Series 50th Anniversary Season began with an electrifying Gala Concert on September 15, 2005, featuring special guest artist, Metallica's Kirk Hammett, performing with FLUX Quartet on a World Premiere collaboration: SAS (for string quartet and improvised electric guitar), an exciting work written by the Quartet's experimental violinist Thomas Chiu. Also on the Gala Concert program was the St. Lawrence String Quartet, first performing Dvorak alone, and then joined by the FLUX and San Francisco Symphony bassist Stephen Tramontozzi for Last Rounds (for double string quartet and double bass) by Osvaldo Golijov. FLUX rounded out the program with a "classical" work, String Quartet by Conlon Nancarrow. Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote of this singular event, "In just a couple of hours, the concert summed up everything that's been most valuable about the series during its half-century of free concerts at San Francisco State University...its variety, its openness and its spirit of adventure."

The September 2005 benefit concert, the first ticketed event in the organization's history, has been followed by a series of free season concerts presented at McKenna Theatre, San Francisco State University, each featuring distinguished international talents. First, Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Piano Trio in a concert of Shostakovich, Mozart and Pärt; followed by David Krakauer's Klezmer Madness; then eighth blackbird in a rare performance of Arnold Schoenberg's Pierre Lunaire: a Cabaret Opera, featuring Soprano Lucy Shelton in the Sprechstimme and the Blair Puppet Theater; also, Juilliard String Quartet in a concert of Schubert, Brahms and Viñao and now, the Alexander String Quartet with Turtle Island String Quartet.

Since 1955, the Morrison Artists Series has alternated daring and experimental programs with traditional repertory; favorite compositions by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven juxtaposed with the innovative sounds of the 20th century, including first performances by such composers as San Francisco's own Pulitzer Prize winning Wayne Peterson, SFSU Professor Emeritus. Presenting six free concerts each year, the Series has logged an impressive 300 concerts featuring performers from over 20 countries and the West Coast premieres of groups that are now regulars on international concert circuits including FLUX, eighth blackbird, Eroica Trio and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.

Since 1989 Saul Gropman has been artistic director of the Morrison Artists Series at San Francisco State University. A classical guitarist, Mr. Gropman is active as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. Performing in Europe, South America, and across the United States, he has collaborated with both the Alexander and Kronos String quartets; with tenor Paul Sperry, and has appeared as soloist with the Sacramento Symphony, New York Chamber Orchestra, Inland Empire Symphony, and the Symphony of the Redwoods. Saul Gropman received both his B.M. and M.M. degrees from the Manhattan School of Music as a scholarship student of Manuel Barrueco. He was chosen by Maestro Andrés Segovia to perform in his Master Classes in Los Angeles and New York and also participated in the III Concurso Internacional de la Guitarra in Alicante, Spain under José Tomás. Past Morrison Artists Series Artistic Directors were Ferenc Molnar, Andor Toth and Laszlo Varga.

The Morrison Artists Series is a program of the May Treat Morrison Chamber Music Center, established in 1955 by Edward Hohfeld to provide "the finest music in the most accessible way." Housed at San Francisco State University, in addition to the world-class concert series, the Morrison Chamber Music Center operates a top-notch teaching program. In a strikingly innovative partnership with San Francisco Performances -– a collaboration that Chamber Music America cites as a model to be emulated –- the Morrison Center established a residency for the renowned Alexander String Quartet at San Francisco State's College of Creative Arts in 1989. Since then, the Quartet has made its mark on chamber music education, directing the chamber music studies program at the University's School of Music and Dance, presenting music seminars, and encouraging students to carry chamber music's artistic torch to the recital hall and into the classroom.

Morrison Artists Series Golden Anniversary concert sponsors include Bank of America Private Bank, Chevron, Osterweis Capital Management, Bowes Family Foundation, William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, Ross McKee Foundation, Vadasz Family Foundation, Galante Chamber Music Fund (Edward E. Galante, Trustee), J. Dennis Bonney and Clement and Jane Galante. 


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Last modified February 22, 2006, by the Office of Public Affairs