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American String Quartet celebrates milestones

The esteemed American String Quartet performs next Sunday as part of the June Music Festival.

The esteemed American String Quartet performs next Sunday as part of the June Music Festival.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — No birthday candles to blow out, no cake to slice.

The American String Quartet, one of the world’s premiere chamber ensembles, is celebrating three anniversaries this season by doing what it does best – performing.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the quartet’s existence. It formed when its original members were students at The Juilliard School.


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It is also the 40th anniversary of the ensemble’s position as quartet-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival.

And there’s one more. It is its 30th anniversary as quartet-in-residence at the Manhattan School of Music.

“We juggle performance with teaching. … It’s our good fortune that the Manhattan School likes us. They recognize that we’re principally a performance ensemble. We do our teaching when we can,” violist Daniel Avshalomov said in a phone interview.

And perform it does. Year-round. World ’round.

The quartet, Avshalomov said, gives on averages 70 to 75 concerts a year from mid-September to mid-May, plus making appearances at summer festivals.

He and violinist Laurie Carney are original members of the quartet.

The American will be in concert June 8 at Albuquerque’s June Music Festival. Its program will feature two Ludwig van Beethoven works – his Quartet No. 12 in E-flat major, Opus 127, and his Quartet in F minor, Opus 95. In between them will be Haydn’s Quartet in D major Opus 76, No. 5.

The next day, the quartet members – Avshalomov, violinists Carney and Peter Winograd and cellist Wolfram Koessel – fly to Israel where it will perform the complete cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets.

“We only started performing in Israel about four years ago. We did mixed programs in different cities, different halls, with different presenters,” Avshalomov said.

“We were perfectly happy with that. We didn’t realize they were checking us out. At the end of our third trip, they asked us, ‘Would you play for us the Beethoven cycle, and the year after that the complete Mendelssohn and Brahms chamber music?’ We said, ‘You bet.'”