The Chiaroscuro String Quartet first came together just a few months ago but has already won a prize. The San Francisco-based youth ensemble won the SF State Morrison Chamber Music Center’s inaugural Galante Prize last month.
The prize comes with $1,000. It is named in memory of Jane H. Galante, a founding trustee and the guiding spirit of the Morrison Chamber Music Center for more than 50 years. Former SF State President Robert Corrigan once described her as a “rare combination of artist, teacher, scholar, advocate for the arts and, above all, patron, who preserves and extends a rich tradition, (because of whom) San Francisco music students can study in a chamber music program as fine as any in the country.”
The Chiaroscuro String Quartet—comprised of violinists Tsutomu William Copeland and Isabella Costanza, violist Clara Chan and cellist Irene Jeong—was formed in fall 2013 as part of the Young Chamber Musicians pre-college chamber music training program, led by Susan Bates. The quartet has worked weekly with Bates with assistance from cellist Eric Gaenslen, and a guest coaching by St. Lawrence String Quartet cellist Christopher Costanza. The quartet’s fall repertoire included works by Haydn, Beethoven and Ravel. In January, the quartet performed a house concert for the Harvard Club of San Francisco. In March, it will appear in master classes at Kohl Mansion for the Miró Quartet and at Menlo School for cellist and Music@Menlo Director David Finckel.
The Chiaroscuro String Quartet won the prize at the ninth Yehudi Menuhin Chamber Music Seminar and Festival, held at SF State from February 13 to 16. The Aye Trio (Alex Chien, piano; Young-Hye Lee, violin; Elena Ariza, cello), also from Young Chamber Musicians, and Échappé String Quartet (Boxianzi Vivian Ling and Albert Yamamoto, violin; Emily Liu, viola; Yuki Mizuno, cello), from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s pre-college division, were the other finalists.
“All of the emerging ensembles played very impressively throughout the week and handled themselves with the utmost professionalism, making this a difficult decision for the seminar’s faculty,” says Paul Yarbrough, the event’s artistic director and the Alexander String Quartet’s violist. “In the end, the members of the Chiaroscuro String Quartet demonstrated a level of maturity of sound and interpretation that defied their youth.”
SF State’s Yehudi Menuhin Chamber Music Seminar and Festival incorporates concerts and a seminar for ensembles of all ages, intensive coaching, public master classes, workshops and lessons. This year’s seminar faculty included SF State quartet-in-residence the Alexander String Quartet, The Juilliard School viola Professor Toby Appel, Naumberg Prize and Irving M. Klein String Competition winning cellist David Requiro, double bassist and SF State Lecturer Shinji Eshima, pianists Sarah Cahill and Laura Dahl, and SF State Assistant Professor and soprano Christine Brandes. Launched in 2003 to honor the great violinist Menuhin’s association with San Francisco and SF State, this event advances the belief that music has the power to create understanding and transcend differences between people.