Meet Class Notes Artist Artaria String Quartet

by Claire Philpott, Minnesota Public Radio
December 2, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Artaria String Quartet is a very busy ensemble.

Founded in Boston, Mass., Artaria has been based in Minnesota since 2001. It runs the school-year Artaria Chamber Music School in Saint Paul, the annual summer Stringwood Chamber Music Festival in Lanesboro, Minn., and the Saint Paul String Quartet Competition, all for aspiring young chamber musicians. Artaria also has several local and regional concerts and events throughout the calendar year, including a chamber series at Wayzata Community Church and at Hamline University's Sundin Music Hall. The quartet is currently in the middle of a two-year focus on the string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich, having just completed two concerts for the aforementioned Wayzata and Sundin Chamber Series as previews to its wall-to-wall Shostakovich-filled January 2014. (see the Artaria String Quartet's complete calendar of events for more information). Always dedicated to education, however, Artaria spent time last week in schools in North Saint Paul, Minn., in Lakeville, Minn., and in Minneapolis.

Artaria took its audience through a musical adventure with the tale of young "Tony" from Minnesota, who finds a time-traveling horse that takes him to meet various classical composers throughout history. As Tony met these composers, Artaria introduced the students to string quartet movements by greats such as Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, and of course, Shostakovich.

Towards the end of the performance, the quartet took questions from the students — there were so many hands in the air: "How long have you been playing?", "How much do your instruments cost?", "Do you guys have 'meetings'?", "How do you make the sound on your instruments?", ("Vibration!", said one student in the front row at Cherry View) "What is the spiky thing at the end of the cello?" (an end pin). The kids were obviously engaged and curious, as well as prepared with some prior knowledge from music classroom instruction. After the concert, some students came up to Artaria to share that they play stringed instruments or to show their appreciation by offering hugs.

Here is what the members of Artaria String Quartet have to say about giving educational performances:

"My favorite part of Artaria's educational performances are the questions that come from the students after hearing us play. No matter their age, students are curious, and I love to encourage their curiosity. I like to think that their questions about expression and emotions are being satisfied through our interaction with them." — Nancy Oliveros, violin

"As a member of the Artaria String Quartet and as a solo artist, I love uncovering and sharing the 'human' story found inside each piece of chamber music. For centuries composers have entrusted their most intimate and personal feelings to the chamber music medium and I thoroughly enjoy guiding young people (and not so young) through an illumination of deep and significant human thought with live music performance." — Ray Shows, violin

"I am really looking forward to performing in the schools this year as one of MPR's Artists-in-Residence! I love introducing children to the beauty and emotional range of the string quartet repertoire. You never know whose life might be altered or changed in some positive way by our visit." — Laura Sewell, cello


  • Franz Joseph Haydn: Quartet in G minor, Op. 74, No. 3 "The Rider" — IV. Finale: Allegro con brio
  • Piotr Illyich Tchaikovsky: String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11 — II. Andante Cantabile (excerpt)
  • Antonín Dvořák: String Quartet No. 12, Op. 96 "American" — IV. Finale: Vivace ma non troppo


  • L.C. Webster Elementary — North Saint Paul, Minn.
  • Cherry View Elementary — Lakeville, Minn.
  • Folwell Performing Arts Magnet — Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Saint Paul City School — Saint Paul, Minn.

About the Classical MPR Class Notes: Artists program this year

Classical MPR is now in its fifth year of welcoming in-school Artists who perform, teach and speak about music during visits to schools throughout the state of Minnesota. The Artists are selected because of the quality of their musicianship and their interest in promoting music education.

About the Classical MPR Class Notes Artists program this year

Now in its fifth year, the Class Notes Artists program at Classical MPR brings performers to elementary schools throughout the state of Minnesota to give educational concerts. Each performance includes a presentation about the Artists' respective instruments, as well as the style, technique, history, and traditions related to the music that they perform.

The Artists are selected for the quality of their musicianship, and for their interest in promoting music education. This year, the following Artists will collectively travel to over 50 schools in four different geographical hubs.

  • Lyz Jaakola — Greater Bemidji area

  • Silver Spruce Duo — Duluth, Cloquet, and the North Shore
  • Dolce Wind Quintet — Twin Cities
  • Artaria String Quartet — Twin Cities
  • Minneapolis Guitar Quartet — Twin Cities
  • Vecchione/Erdahl Duo — Twin Cities
  • Odelia Trio — Rochester

These performances are supported by Minnesota music education standards-based curriculum designed by Classical MPR's Curriculum Specialist. These lessons and activities are given to music teachers in advance of each Artist's visit, and are to be used as learning materials for before and/or after each performance.

Students at participating schools will also receive an MPR-produced compilation CD featuring the year's Artists, allowing students to experience a wide range of different musical styles and ensembles. The 2013-14 album, A Musical History Tour is also available to stream online.

Classical MPR's goal for the Class Notes Artist program is to create authentic and transformative experiences for young pupils that will inspire their creative pursuits, and be a meaningful addition to what they are already learning from their music teachers.

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