Classical Music Buzz > æolus quartet
æolus quartet
Nicholas Tavani
23 Entries
Allow me to start out by listing some problems with living in Manhattan:

1. Levain Bakery. It is 2 blocks from my apartment, and this is a problem. The raspberry bomboloncini I got this morning... I just can't.
2. There is a chicken and waffles place literally behind my building
3. I keep getting on the wrong trains and ending up in the Bronx (this one is an actual problem)
4. There are so many wonderful musicians and friends on this tiny island, I feel like my heart might burst at any moment!!

We kicked off our residency at Juilliard and the start of a new academic year with a performance at Convocation, followed by a lavish picnic at Lincoln Center's lovely hyperbolic paraboloid (see below)
We could not be more excited about our Juilliard residency, which includes coachings with the members of the beloved Juilliard String Quartet, as well as the opportunity to help lead the undergraduate String Quartet Survey course and to coach undergraduate chamber ensembles.

Also thrilling is our new snazzy website, which you no doubt have already stumbled upon if you are reading this blog. Our old site served us well and was in fact kind of a miracle, as Nick and Greg actually taught themselves how to code and just built the thing themselves in Aspen. But it's time to move on, and I hope you enjoy the new scrolly homepage as much as I do. Please do drop by our schedule page, we are playing shows in

Washington DC
Sarasota, FL
Richmond, VA
Reading, PA
South Bend, IN
Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Mt. Vernon, OH
Colorado Springs
Artesia, NM
Hickory, NC
San Francisco, CA
Grand Rapids, MN
Vancouver, BC
Bolivar, MO
Stanford, CA
Winchester, VA

...just to throw some places out there. If we are in your town, let us know! We're probably just hanging out in a tiny elevator all together like this one at Washington DC's Cosmos Club, waiting to hang out with you-

Before I go, our friend Sara from the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar at Stanford wrote this great article on the program we've attended for three years and counting. Check it out and also enjoy this photo of SLSQ's Geoff Nuttall coaching Nick on his hairstyle:

3 years ago | |
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I would be completely remiss if I didn't mention our most exciting news of all, which is that we will be serving as the new Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School this fall! We are incredibly honored to be following in the footsteps of so many quartets before us. We are also incredibly homeless come late August, so if anyone needs a roommate let us know ;)
3 years ago | |
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To excerpt a recent email from our dear friend and mentor, Martha Hilley -

"I know you have done things in 2013 so update your blog ! ! !"

Wise, wise words. Prof. Hilley is incidentally the reason this blog exists in the first place, as a spin-off project from a music business class years ago at UT. So when she says to update the blog, we update the blog!

We're happily back in UT territory for the rest of July, serving as Quartet in Residence at the Austin Chamber Music Center. Here's a silly video of Greg and me chatting with ACMC's lovely Michelle Schumann about the upcoming workshop, and life:


And in case you missed us somehow this morning on KUTX with the amazing human that is John Aielli, as well as lovely Michelle again, here we are playing some tunes on the radio:


3 years ago | |
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So as Hurricane Sandy and possibly the end of the world approaches, I find myself in a reflective mood. I believe it was while standing in a line a mile long at the grocery store, trying to buy some laundry detergent, hemmed in by panicked shoppers stockpiling flashlights and dry goods, that I first considered I may not be taking this storm seriously enough. Having just returned from a glorious week of concerts and educational performances at middle and high schools in the Tacoma/Seattle area, my jetlagged and outreach-oriented mind has not yet switched to hurricane survival mode. We played for over 1500 students during our stay in Washington, generally at shockingly early times in the morning (who knew that high school started at 7:15am?!) Check out this clip, generously filmed by Brian Fox of the Puyallup School District, to get an idea of early morning Aeolus and our awesome audiences -

But outreach isn't all we've been up to in the past few weeks. We also took a quick jaunt to Germany, where we had delicious food and beer and got to play in the Laeiszhalle at Johannes-Brahms-Platz (pictured below).

And back in DC, we had one of our more surreal experiences as we found ourselves taking the stage directly after a speech by Joe Biden. We got the picture pretty quickly upon the realization that the entire backstage area was surrounded by Secret Service. Here's Greg musing over the speech in the wings -

But anyway I've just been informed that it may be prudent to fill up the tub in the event of manual toilet flushing. Manual toilet flushing??? Oh man. Stay safe east coast loved ones!
4 years ago | |
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And also this picture, because it is amazing. Lesley Robertson of the SLSQ generously gave us a mini private screening of old string quartet videos, and we were delighted to catch this shot of our hero, Joel Krosnick!!!

I also find it necessary to add this photo of us with another hero, Professor Parker of the Gryphon Trio! Please check out his critically acclaimed series of instructional videos on Facebook, particularly if you are a violist :)

I know I said this was just going to be a video, but the kids participating in Stanford University's Educational Programs for Gifted Youth were so awesome. We feel honored to have been given the opportunity to get to know these guys - performing for them, discussing music with them, or just hanging out. At our last session with the EPGY guys, they each wrote their own short string quartet -and we read through all 2.5 hours of them :) here we are with Alan squared:

A huge thank you to the St. Lawrence Quartet for putting together an incredibly inspiring seminar, to Heidi Lee for organizing absolutely everything and taking us to all the best places to eat in the Bay Area, and Anna Wittstruck and the EPGY kids for being awesome.

aaaaaand the video:

4 years ago | |
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Where do I even begin. Imagine my horror upon realizing that the last post on our beloved blog is from 2011!?!? Somehow amidst travels to Mexico and London, several memorable trips to New York, the creation of the Ultra-Trone (a programmed metronome device that deserves explanation in its own blog post), and the constant refinement of our tuning system (please refer to blog video #1) Aeolus' Spring 2012 has not yet been documented here! Let's start with this past week-

We returned to the incredibly inspiring Juilliard String Quartet Seminar for a week of coachings with first violinist Joseph Lin and violist Samuel Rhodes, culminating in performances in Juilliard's Paul Recital Hall by all participating groups. Our first time at the Seminar was in 2010, and it proved to be a pivotal experience in the development of our quartet. The 2010 Seminar also marked the first (and last) time all four of us stayed together in one hotel room for an entire week - thankfully, we have left those days far behind.We are so grateful for the mentorship and inspiration provided by the Juilliard String Quartet!
Greg and Alan discussing the finer points of Beethoven's Op. 95 with Juilliard Quartet second violinist Ronald Copes.
Finding ourselves with just a little too much free time between our dress rehearsal and concert at Juilliard yesterday, we filmed a brief clip that I feel really captures the essence of Aeolus Quartet violist,  Greg Luce. Please enjoy.
Another highlight of our spring has been some unique opportunities afforded us in our position as graduate quartet in residence at the University of Maryland. Professor Ken Slowik, extraordinary academic and curator of the rare instrument collection at the Smithsonian Institute, recently ushered us into the museum after hours and, to our amazement, unlocked the display cases and allowed us to play on an assortment of priceless Stradivarius and Amati instruments! This was a dream come true, made even more dream-like by the fact that we were alone in the Smithsonian at 11:30pm.Professor Slowik removing instruments from their display case as Nick marvels at a Strad.
Greg holding possibly the world's most coveted viola - 1663 Nicolo Amati "Professor Wirth".
Thank you for keeping up with us, more to come soon! I promise!
5 years ago | |
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We've had our share of critical attention over the years... but never like this.  Check out some recent words from our new buddies at Mt. Penn Elementary's fourth grade class:

from tough critics:
"Thank you for coming to our school and playing for us.  We all (even Tyler) enjoyed your music" -Anna

and technical mastery:
"I really liked your music, and instruments, and your form" - Draven

to the generic:
"Thank you for the good music and about the violins and stuff" - Walter

from incredible music-inspired stories:
"Thank you, thank you, thank you I really love your music. The story I would like to share is a girl running in a mansion and falls into a weird world and she has to get out of there before taco night.  She felt she was gone for months but technically only 5 mins in the real world.  She finally finds a sign that says EXIT. She's finally home in time for taco night even though she was only gone for 10 mins isn't that funny. I really like this idea for a story and it's very creative" - Maria

"Thank you for coming. My story is a man who gets chased by wolves into a cave he found some gold and bought a horse and put the gold in the saddle pocket and got married wolves came back and he died" - Jai

and career advice:
"I think your quartet could go to the Olympics and play for them" - Owen

to mysterious words about Alan:
"I like the stuff you played. I like the guy who plays the Alan" - Anonymous

and perhaps our most accurate quartet depiction to date. New publicity material?:

This is the reason we love doing outreach. What an amazing excuse to hang out with creative, hilarious kids and talk about why music is awesome.  Thank you to our new friends at Mt. Penn Elementary!

5 years ago | |
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...terrifyingly enormous. The Monster Quartet visits Dalian, People's Republic of China.
5 years ago | |
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Hello blogging world! It's wonderful to see you again. We have just spent the past couple weeks gallavanting about China, where the "bandwidths" of many google-supported sites are "throttled", or so Nick tells me. I know nothing of these things, but I am certainly appreciating not having to load everything in basic html, for hours at a time. But there are so many incredible things about China and our experiences there that we will never forget!

First things first - food.

Our wonderful, patient, and hilarious tour managers from Wu Promotion as well as from various local agencies made sure that we always had at least 15 plates, per meal. Tiny tables were literally stacked with dishes.  And the managers liked to make fun of us for not finishing everything!!!

A particularly memorable meal - lunch on our last day of tour! Beijing-style hotpot, with lamb and STOMACH and these incredible lamb-skewer-things with a kind of dry rub that would've made Texas proud. And Peking duck omgggg

We played lots of concerts too, in awesome halls -
Our first show, at Shanghai Oriental Arts Center. Do you like our outfits? They are quite new. All our checked bags got lost because of a close connection (and I mean CLOSE, I've never run so fast through an airport terminal in my life, with a string of Chinese attendants cheering me on/yelling to go faster) so we spent the morning of our first day in China shopping! <3 I was quite pleased, and so were the boys...
And this was the festival at which we were asked the question we have been waiting for, for so many years: Do we want fog machines. To be honest, this is more of a dream for the boys than for me, but I understand the gravity of the situation. To everyone's immense disappointment, the smoke didn't work out, but do not worry, the light show did. We had no idea we would be performing during the Autumn Moon Festival, but it was really an experience to remember!

Then there was this enormous backdrop-
And believe it or not, an even bigger poster of our faces in Dalian, which was terrifying. Pics of that to come, I believe they're all on Nick's camera

Ahh there are so many pictures I want to post on this thing. But another little detail - the Aeolus Quartet now lives in the Washington DC area, as we have just begun a doctoral quartet residency at the University of Maryland! I have found that a great antidote to jetlag is unpacking all the boxes in my apartment. So as I get back to that important task, I will leave you with this photo of our tour bus -
just kidding. But we did have a lot of fun riding around in these things :)
5 years ago | |
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How is it that all music festivals seem to take place in the most stunning locations? Well, maybe not all... I guess we've put in our time in Topeka, etc. Not that we didn't love you, Topeka - we DID! You were just a little flat. But check out where we are right now -
BANFF!!! Or to be more precise, that is Lake Louise as seen from the Trail of Six Glaciers. And here I am posing in front of an avalanche, no big deal -

oops I couldn't fit the e in at the end of "avalanche," but you know what I mean. The above photo is the work of none other than one Alan Richardson, wilderness photographer extraordinaire/ cellist in this quartet. Actually he was just taking a picture of me and some snow, but his timing is impeccable! Avalanches were falling everywhere, I guess that's what we get for hiking in summer when ice is melting off the glaciers - Banff seems to have a very different idea of summer from what we're used to down in Texas...

Aside from the extraordinary mountains, the elk stalking the practice huts, our hotel-like accommodations in an entirely creativity-oriented environment, the gourmet food, and great company til the wee hours of the morning, it is truly the mix of musicians here at the Banff Centre that are making this experience one we will never forget. Please refer back to my post gushing about the Brentano Quartet, and kindly look at the picture of Mark Steinberg - we get to work with him!!! every day!!!! And so many other incredible mentors too. We still have one more week here, and we're looking forward to getting into some Beethoven Op. 132 as well as performing the Brahms B flat sextet with Denis Brott and David Samuel! I never want to leave. More soon!
5 years ago | |
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