Members and friends of the internationally renowned American String Quartet join pianist Debra Ayers, a regular performer with the Breckenridge Music Festival, for an evening of works by French composers on Sunday at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon. The American String Quartet, which is celebrating its 37th season in 2012-13, is critically acclaimed for its presentations of the complete quartets of Beethoven, Schubert, Bartok, Schoenberg and Mozart, in addition to contemporary music. Members to be featured at Sunday's concert include Laurie Carney on violin and Daniel Avshalomov on viola, joined by Carney's husband, William Grubb, on cello and Ayers on piano. Grubb, an accomplished cellist and teacher, instructs at the Jordan College of Fine Arts at Butler University, the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and the Aspen Music Festival and School. "The three string players met at Juilliard 40 years ago, and we met Debra at least 25 years ago when she was head of (public relations) for the Aspen Music Festival, where we were all performers," Carney said. Sunday will be a Summit County first for Carney, Avshalomov and Grubb. Ayers performs internationally as a recitalist in addition to her numerous appearances with the Breckenridge Music Festival."Debra is a wonderful resource for the (festival) because she has many friends and colleagues in the music world that she performs with and brings to the (festival)," spokesperson Olivia Grover said. "We are lucky to have her in our family." Sunday's program includes Joaquin Turina's Piano Quartet, Op. 67, Olivier Messian's Theme and Variations for Violin & Piano, Ernest Chausson's Piece, Op. 39 and Gabriel Faure's Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15.All of the selected composers are French, with the exception of Turina, from Spain, who studied in Paris in the early 20th century, Carney said. "So much of our repertoire is German, and we wanted to do something different, so we decided to do a French theme with some rarely heard works," Carney said.Carney, who is a founding member of the American String Quartet, holds the distinction of performing quartets longer than any woman in the field. The American String Quartet began performing concerts while she was still an undergraduate at Juilliard. She also has been a faculty artist at the Aspen Music Festival and School since 1974 and the Manhattan School of Music since 1984. To make it in the field, Carney recommends that aspiring classical musicians "recognize that talent and hard work will be prerequisites" but also "be willing to make a candid assessment of your chances once the hard work is done because the classical music profession is a small and competitive one.""I've witnessed a lot more woman willing to face the challenges in what was, for many years, a male-dominated field," she said. Avshalomov, hailed by The Strad magazine as "one of the finest occupants of that chair, both instrumentally and musically, of any quartet now active" performs nationwide as a soloist and in collaborations, in addition to the American String Quartet. He has been on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music since 1984 and at the Aspen School since 1976. "It is not every day that musicians of such international acclaim and caliber perform here," Grover said. "After all, the American String Quartet is one of the world's foremost quartets." Sunday's concert is a joint presentation by the Breckenridge Music Festival and Summit Music and Arts.
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