Crowden Student Quartets to Play in Big Time

Janos Gereben on January 14, 2019
This Crowden School eighth-grade quartet will perform with the Kronos Quartet, clockwise from upper left: Annika Lin, Leila Yokoyama, Meilani Huynh, and Mali Nguyen | Credit: Michelle Lee

Crowden School graduates have long gone on illustrious careers, and famous musicians frequently visit Crowden to work with the students. There is now yet another path of learning and distinction for the talented young musicians: joining important professionals in performance.

A Crowden student quartet will perform with the Kronos Quartet on Jan. 25, and the Crowden alumni Meráki String Quartet with the Alexander Quartet on Jan. 27.

Kronos members provide individual coaching to eighth graders Mali Nguyen, Annika Lin, Leila Yokoyama, and Meilani Huynh before performing together at Cal Performances.

The Meráki String Quartet is mentored by the Alexander Quartet and they join in Herbst Theater to perform the first movement of Mendelssohn’s Octet and selected movements of Mozart’s String Quartet in D Major, K. 575.

Crowden’s Meráki String Quartet will play with the Alexander String Quartet | Credit: Geoffrey Biddle

Collaboration with Kronos is part of the quartet’s “Fifty for the Future” initiative, which combines commissioning new music and providing open-access education. Kronos and Crowden perform the second movement of Ken Benshoof’s sweeter than wine and join student ensembles from Berkeley High School and Oakland School of the Arts to perform Philip Glass’s Quartet Satz.

The concert also features world premieres by composer Misato Mochizuki, whose works are frequently inspired by science and philosophy, and Colombian musician Mario Galeano Toro, who has focused over the past 15 years on researching Colombian tropical music and its diaspora throughout South America. Guest artist Soo Yeon Lyuh, a virtuoso on the haegeum, will perform with the quartet.

Among many famous supporters of Crowden School: a visit by Yo-Yo Ma

The Alexander Quartet “Family Matinee” with the Meráki Quartet will celebrate Mozart’s 263rd birthday with selected movements of Mozart and Mendelssohn.

The Meráki Quartet was formed in 2016 as part of Crowden’s after-school Youth Chamber Music program. Violinists Sofia Matthews, Jun Yong Liu, and cellist Isabelle Nichols graduated together from Crowden in 2016; violist Anna Renton is a longtime participant in Crowden’s community programs. Meráki took second place at the Galante Prize Competition in the 2017 Yehudi Menuhin Chamber Music Seminar, and they have performed on NPR’s From the Top.

Meráki Quartet members are all current students in Crowden’s Youth Chamber Music program, an after-school and weekend chamber music program for intermediate and advanced players.

Crowden’s Associate Artistic Director Eugene Sor coaches both Meráki and the student quartet that will join Kronos. As a student, Sor himself worked with ASQ cellist Sandy Wilson, as well as with Bonnie Hampton, a member of Crowden’s Music Advisory Board. Both Hampton and the Alexander Quartet have a long history of mentoring talented students from Crowden.