The Fry Street Quartet at Utah State University is proud to present the first complete Bartok Cycle at USU Nov. 6-8 at 7:30 p.m. in the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall on the Logan campus. Noted Bartok scholar and speaker, Peter Laki, will join the quartet in a presentation of the complete cycle over three evenings. Laki will offer his expertise and knowledge to audiences while interacting onstage with the quartet to create an unforgettable, immersive experience.
“There are certain works for string quartet that are so demanding, with ensemble so intricate, that you can only tackle them with a group that’s truly dedicated,” Brad Ottesen, violist in the FSQ and professional practice associate professor in the Caine College of the Arts, said. “Learning all six Bartok quartets in the entirety was a bucket list item for me. Learning one of these quartets is like climbing a small mountain—being able to perform all 6 in a cycle is a physical and intellectual challenge that I think we’re all looking forward to.”
Ottesen said the FSQ never plays Bartok without speaking to the audience from the stage in order to guide them through the work. By bringing in Laki, the quartet is hoping to give the audience the layers of understanding that are necessary to heighten the experience of hearing the pieces performed live.
Laki, a native of Budapest, graduated from the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in 1979 and received a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989. He served as program annotator of the Cleveland Orchestra and has taught courses at Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, John Carroll University and Oberlin College. Since 2007, he has served as a visiting professor at Bard College. Laki is the author of numerous musicological articles and editor of Bartok and His World. He writes program notes for many orchestras and performing arts organizations around the country and lectures at many international conferences, most recently in Budapest.
“We are thrilled and honored that Dr. Laki would join us for this project,” Robert Waters, first violinist in the FSQ and professional practice associate professor in the CCA, said. “His insight into Bartok’s language, life and influences runs very deep.”
Laki will be working with the FSQ’s students during the week he is here and presenting a lecture on Bartok’s relationship with folk music in the Caine Room in the Family Life Building at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9.
“Bartok truly reinvented the string quartet for the twentieth century,” Waters said. “He introduced new, previously inconceivable techniques and sounds to the string quartet toolbox and these innovations heavily influenced quartet writing for the rest of that century.”
Waters said Bartok created a wholly new musical language of harmony and rhythm, drawn partially from his obsession with a great variety of folk music. He was then able to integrate the folk elements into a highly developed new approach to structure in music, yielding what Waters calls “spellbinding” results!
“Bartok is a giant of 20th century music, who set out to do no less than to revolutionize music, and you can experience the entire course of this revolution through these six works,” Ottesen said. “These works contain the vision and integrity to continue to be deeply meaningful to us still today.”
In addition to the FSQ’s performances, the students of the USU string program will perform Bartok’s 44 string duos in the lobby at 7 p.m. each night before the concert.
The performances are Nov. 6 (No. 1 and No. 6), Nov. 7 (No. 2 and No. 4) and Nov. 8 (No. 3 and No. 5) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 adults, $10 seniors and USU faculty/staff and free for USU students with ID and grades 3-12. If you purchase tickets for the complete cycle, you will receive a 20 percent discount. The concerts will be available to stream on aggiecast.usu.edu. For more information and tickets, contact the CCA Box Office in room L101 of the Chase Fine Arts Center on USU’s campus, call 435-797-8022, or go online to cca.usu.edu.