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Jupiter String Quartet concert will feature works by Ives, Alberga and Mendelssohn

The Jupiter String Quartet (from left: Nelson Lee, Liz Freivogel, Daniel McDonough and Meg Freivogel) performs Saturday, Oct. 8 at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana.

URBANA — The Jupiter String Quartet have been artists-in-residence at the University of Illinois for the last ten years. 

The quartet’s first performance this season is Saturday night at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana. 

Illinois Newsroom’s Brian Moline spoke with Jupiter violinist Nelson Lee about Saturday night’s concert, which is in the Foellenger Great Hall. 

Listen to this story here. 

“The sound is really versatile. You can get all different kinds of sound in terms of how much resonance you want,” Lee said. “I think there’s also a good balance between clarity and resonance in the hall. Some places I think there’s almost too much wash in the sound. That’s definitely not the case in Foellenger Great Hall.”

Saturday night’s program includes Ives’ String Quartet No. 1, which Lee says was one of his first major works as a composer.

“You can hear him sort of developing his voice as a composer and experimenting with what is called polytonality,” Lee said. “His dad was a band director, and his dad would love to get four different bands playing at different parts of this park in Connecticut where they grew up, and then kind of hearing the resulting cacophony and how that would kind of come across. So, there are moments in the piece where you hear Ives experimenting with that.”

The middle piece of the concert is Eleanor Alberga’s String Quartet No. 2. Alberga is a Jamaican-born English composer who composed this piece in 1994. 

“This is a very exciting, kind of visceral work,” Lee said. “Everything from the piece is woven from this motive you hear right at the beginning, in the first few seconds of the piece. Everything she does from that point on is sort of an experiment on that motive.”

The program will close with the final major work from Felix Mendelssohn, his String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, which he wrote while mourning the death of his sister, Fanny. 

“It’s just sadness and despair throughout the whole work,” Lee said. “Mendelssohn was super close with Fanny. They were best friends in a lot of ways. They were both great musicians. Fanny Mendelssohn wrote a lot of great music. I think the amount of despair he felt can’t be understated.”

The Jupiter String Quartet is violinists Nelson Lee and Meg Freivogel, Liz Freivogel on viola, and cellist Daniel McDonough. Saturday night’s concert starts at 7:30pm. 

Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianMolineWILL

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Brian Moline

Brian Moline

Brian Moline is the Managing Editor of Illinois Newsroom and host of Morning Edition for Illinois Public Media/WILL. He's been with WILL since 2015, after a long stint at WDWS-AM in Champaign where he covered both news and sports for more than a decade. If you have story or interview ideas, you can reach Brian at bmoline@illinois.edu.

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