ABOUT THE QUARTET

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Praised by the Baltimore Sun for combining “smoothly meshed technique with a sense of spontaneity and discovery,” the Aeolus Quartet is committed to presenting time-seasoned masterworks and new cutting-edge works to widely diverse audiences with equal freshness, dedication, and fervor. Violinists Nicholas Tavani and Rachel Shapiro, violist Gregory Luce, and cellist Alan Richardson formed the Aeolus Quartet in 2008 at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Since its inception, the all-American quartet has been awarded prizes at nearly every major competition in the United States and performed across the globe with showings “worthy of a major-league quartet” (Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News). Mark Satola of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes, “A rich and warm tone combined with precise ensemble playing (that managed also to come across as fluid and natural), and an impressive musical intelligence guided every technical and dramatic turn.” They were the 2013-2015 Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School, and they currently make their home in New York City.

 

The Aeolus Quartet are Grand Prizewinners of the 2011 Plowman Chamber Music Competition and 2011 Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition. They were awarded First Prize at the 2009 Coleman International Chamber Ensemble Competition, a Silver Medal at the 2011 Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition, and a Bronze Medal at the 2010 International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition in New England. The 16th Annual Austin Critics’ Table named the Aeolus Quartet their 2010-2011 “Best Ensemble.” The Aeolus Quartet has released two critically acclaimed albums of classical and contemporary works through the Longhorn/Naxos label which are available on iTunes, Amazon, and major retailers worldwide.

The Quartet has performed across North America, Europe, and Asia in venues such as Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Reinberger Recital Hall at Severance Hall, Merkin Hall, The Library of Congress, Renwick Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center.

Dedicated to bringing music into the community, the Aeolus Quartet has been widely recognized for their highly innovative and engaging outreach programs. For the 2015-2016 season, the Quartet was the recipient of a CMA Residency Partnership Grant. Named the 2015-2016 Guarneri Quartet Residency in recognition of Aeolus’ artistic achievement, the project involved extensive outreach and performance at Duke Ellington School for the Arts, the Sitar Arts Center, and George Washington University. The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association awarded the Aeolus their 2013 Educator Award in acknowledgment of the positive impact their educational efforts have had in diverse communities. Additionally, they were awarded the 2012 Lad Prize which culminated in large-scale community engagement work, performing in the Stanford area, and a masterclass residency at Stanford University.  The Aeolus Quartet has also served as teaching faculty at Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY), the Austin Chamber Music Workshop, and Da Camera of Houston’s Music Encounters Program.  Working in collaboration with the University of Texas through the Rural Chamber Music Outreach Initiative, the Quartet has presented educational programs and performances in communities throughout the state of Texas.

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The Aeolus Quartet has collaborated with many leading artists, including Renee Fleming, Ida Kavafian, Joel Krosnick, and Paul Neubauer. They studied extensively with the Juilliard, Guarneri, St. Lawrence, and Miró Quartets. Other mentors include artists such as William Preucil, Peter Salaff, Donald Weilerstein, Itzhak Perlman, Gerhard Schulz, and Mark Steinberg. Members of the Quartet hold degrees from the Juilliard School, Peabody Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Maryland, and the University of Texas at Austin, where they served as Graduate String Quartet-in-Residence.

The Quartet’s 2016-17 season includes multiple performances in New York – including Merkin Hall, an ongoing Bargemusic residency, and the Bulgarian consulate – residencies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tulsa Chamber Music, and Texas Performing Arts, and extensive touring throughout the United States. In addition, the Quartet is partnering with the Chamber Music Society of Detroit and NYU’s MUSED Lab to create an entirely new app-based educational music residency experience for schools.

Aeolus is the ensemble in residence at Musica Viva of NY on the Upper East Side. Thanks to the generosity of the Five Partners Foundation and Ruth Trampler, the four members play on a set of instruments by famed Brooklyn luthier Samuel Zygmuntowicz. The Quartet is named for the Greek god Aeolus, who governed the four winds. This idea of a single spirit uniting four individual forces serves as an inspiration to the members of the Aeolus Quartet as they pursue their art.

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Violinist Nicholas Tavani was born in Arlington, VA, and debuted in Washington, D.C.’s Gaston Hall at the age of eight. The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently praised him as “ an alert and sensitive artist, with beautiful tone and exquisite phrasing,” and the Washington Post has hailed his “brilliant musicianship.” As a chamber musician, recitalist, and concerto soloist, Mr. Tavani has performed extensively to critical acclaim in the United States and around the world. As first violinist of the Aeolus Quartet, he was a winner of the 2011 Plowman International Chamber Music Competition, the 2011 Yellow Springs Chamber Music competition, and the 2009 Coleman International Chamber Music Competition. He is also a laureate of the Postacchini and Kingsville International Violin Competitions.
Mr. Tavani serves as first violinist in the Aeolus Quartet, who are currently Artists in Residence at George Washington University and Musica Viva New York. In addition, he serves as a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble and the Smithsonian Chamber Players.

A passionate advocate of new music, Mr. Tavani has premiered and recorded several works by living composers, including Samuel Adler, Alexandra Bryant, Christopher Theofanidis, and Dan Visconti. His discography includes two albums with the Aeolus Quartet in wide release on the Longhorn/Naxos label. Performances with orchestra include the Aspen Festival Orchestra, Prince William Symphony, Little River Symphony, Masterworks Festival Orchestra, Austin Chamber Music Festival Orchestra, CIM Chamber Orchestra, and many others. Collaborations include Renee Fleming, Peter Salaff, Ieva Jokubaviciute, Daxun Zhang, and Michael Tree.
Mr. Tavani’s current season includes solo performances in Maine and New York, concertos in New York, extensive touring across the US and South Korea with the Aeolus Quartet, and tours with the Mark Morris Dance Group to Israel and the US.

As a committed educator, Mr. Tavani has served on the faculties of the George Washington University School of Music, Point CounterPoint Music Festival, the MasterWorks Festival, and the University of Maryland High School Music Academy. He served as teaching assistant to the Juilliard Quartet at the Juilliard School, where he studied with Joseph Lin and Ronald Copes, and the Aeolus Quartet was 2013-2015 Graduate Quartet in Residence. Mr. Tavani is currently completing his doctoral work under the mentorship of David Salness at the University of Maryland. An alumnus of the Cleveland Institute of Music, Nicholas studied violin with William Preucil and chamber music with Peter Salaff and the Cavani Quartet. In addition to a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from CIM, Nicholas also studied mathematical physics at Case Western Reserve University.

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Rachel Kitagawa Shapiro, born in Reading, PA, first became acquainted with the violin at age four.  She has since performed in such venues as Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and across the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, the Czech Republic, and China.  Her collaborative highlights include performances with Roger Tapping, Eugenia Zukerman, Victor Rosenbaum, and the Miró Quartet, as well as an appearance with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra on a subscription concert for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2011 Chamber Collection series at the Kimmel Center. She has performed multiple times on the Stradivarius “Greffuhle” violin (1709) of the Smithsonian Institution’s rare instrument collection with the Smithsonian Chamber Players. A devoted and dynamic educator, Ms. Shapiro has served on faculty as a chamber music coach and private teacher at Stanford University’s “Why Music Matters” Educational Program for Gifted Youth, the Austin Chamber Music Center Workshop, and the George Washington University Summer Chamber Music Institute.  As teaching assistant at both the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Maryland, she coached undergraduate and graduate student ensembles and taught private lessons.

 

At the age of fifteen, Ms. Shapiro made her debut as soloist with the Reading Symphony Orchestra.  She appeared on a broadcast of NPR’s “From the Top” radio show as concertmistress of the Settlement Chamber Orchestra in Philadelphia, PA.  An alumna of the Perlman Music Program: Chamber Music Workshop, Aspen Music Festival, ENCORE School for Strings, and Meadowmount School of Music, Ms. Shapiro has performed in masterclasses for such distinguished artists as William Preucil, Joel Smirnoff and Charles Castleman.  She is presently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Maryland, having earned her Master of Music from the University of Texas at Austin in the Graduate Quartet-in-Residence program. She received a Bachelor of Music in violin performance under the tutelage of Linda Cerone at the Cleveland Institute of Music, with a minor in English literature from Case Western Reserve University. Ms. Shapiro is currently enrolled in the Artist Diploma program at the Juilliard School.

 

Ms. Shapiro is a founding member of the Aeolus Quartet, with whom she enjoys traveling the world and performing concerts in every venue imaginable.

 

 

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Honored by The Washington Post as an “appealing, natural player”, Mr. Luce has performed in Austria, England, China, Hungary, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Canada, Taiwan, and the United States. He has additionally premiered dozens of pieces in varied ensembles around the world, with concert venues including the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, Severance Hall and the Meyerhoff Concert Hall in Baltimore.

As an educator he is also in demand, having been invited to coach, teach privately, and perform at numerous schools and festivals such as the Juilliard School, Stanford University, the Interlochen Summer Arts Academy and the Austin Chamber Music Center’s Summer Workshop. In 2013 he was appointed to the position of Professorial Lecturer at George Washington University.

Mr. Luce has enjoyed an ongoing working relationship with the Conspirare Symphonic Choir of Austin, TX since 2011.  Following a performance alongside them in January of 2011, the concert was hailed by National Public Radio as being “dreamlike…uncanny.”  The same concert was also reviewed by Brett Campbell of the Wall Street Journal, who called the performance “a powerful new achievement in American music that vividly traces a journey from despair to transcendence.”

Mr. Luce previously graduated from the Peabody Conservatory initially (B.M.), where he studied with Stephen Wyrczynski formerly of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Victoria Chiang, Afterwards he graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music (M.M.), where he studied with Mark Jackobs of the Cleveland Orchestra. As a member of the Aeolus Quartet, Mr. Luce was invited to attend the first graduate string quartet-in-residence program at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his first Artist Diploma with high honors while studying with John Largess of the Miró Quartet. Finally he garnered terminal degrees in the form of a doctorate from the University of Maryland at College Park and an Artist Diploma from the venerable Juilliard School in New York.

His ensemble playing has received special attention from the New York Times as being “Admirably tight and genuinely intense.” Since 2008 he has been violist of the Aeolus Quartet, top prizewinners at numerous national and international competitions.  Following their performance in Trondheim’s International Chamber Music Competition of 2009, the Aeolus Quartet was praised by Strad magazine for their “high-octane performance,” with Mr. Luce receiving particular note as being “especially enjoyable.”

Mr. Luce plays on a viola made by Samuel Zygmuntowicz for celebrated violist Walter Trampler in 1991, the instrument on which he performed during the final six years of his life. This instrument is generously on loan from Ruth Sumners Trampler, and bears on the ribs a Latin inscription which translates, “it is not the age of a man that makes him, it is his virtues.”

 

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Virginia native and founding member of the Aeolus Quartet, cellist Alan Richardson is a fellowship student in the DMA program at the University of Maryland, where he studies with Evelyn Elsing. Mr. Richardson is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music (B.M.), where he studied with Melissa Kraut and Richard Aaron, and the University of Texas at Austin (M.M.), where he studied with Joshua Gindele. In Fall 2013, he will enter the Artist Diploma program at Juilliard.

 

Mr. Richardson has performed in many of the great halls across North America, Europe, and Asia including Carnegie Hall, Severance Hall, St. Martin in the Fields, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Montreal’s Pollack Hall, Trondheim Frimurerlogen, and the Hamburg Laeiszhalle. As a member of the Aeolus Quartet, he was awarded Grand Prize at the 2011 Plowman and Yellow Springs Competitions, top strings prize at the 2009 Coleman Competition, Silver Medal at the 2011 Fischoff Competition, and a Bronze Medal at the 2010 International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition.

 

As an educator, Mr. Richardson has given masterclasses and outreach presentations across the United States. He has served on faculty at the 2011 Austin Chamber Music Festival, and had the opportunity to teach and coach many undergraduate and graduate students while serving as teaching assistants at the University of Texas and University of Maryland.