Jupiter String Quartet performs impressive set

By Courtney Bottazzi


On Friday, Jan. 27, the University was graced with the performance of the Jupiter String Quartet with guest artist Jon Nakamatsu.

The program, held in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, consisted of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Quartet in F, Op. 77, No. 2,  Bela Bartók’s Quartet No. 6 and Antonin Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A, Op. 81. Before Bartók’s piece, the audience was given the back story of what was happening in the composer’s life at the time the piece was created, as well as what feelings were to be expected from hearing the music.

Throughout the piece, the gifted musicians were able to flawlessly recreate the composer’s emotions and captivate the audience. The quartet’s seamless movement through the pieces becomes even more awe-inspiring with the knowledge that two of their original members, Meg Freivogel and Daniel McDonough, were absent due to the impending birth of their first child. Liz Freivogel and Nelson Lee were joined by Freivogel’s younger brother, Jay Freivogel, and Lee’s husband, Denise Djokic. The substitution of familial relationships enhanced, rather than hindered, the performance; from the violent crescendos to the graceful fall of their bows at the end of a piece, the quartet seemed perfectly in sync.

The audience, entranced by the music, tilted their heads back to listen to the beautiful notes unfold. An additional and truly fascinating dimension of this performance could be found in watching these talented musicians.

The live performance offered something that an audio recording could never capture. By watching their body language, one could visually see the attitudes of certain pieces, the playfulness of others and the enjoyment felt by the quartet while reacting to and with their fellow musicians.

When Nakamatsu took his seat at the piano, it seemed impossible that he could join the others and still maintain the previously effortless communication. Nakamatsu blended in wonderfully with the quartet and provided an amazing ending to the evening’s performance.

“Laura (my fiancé) and I thought it was a great performance, especially given that half the group were fill-ins. I hadn’t heard the Bartók before, but that was probably my favorite selection of the evening. We agreed that it was the ‘exposure’ piece of the night, the one that they figure that most people haven’t heard or might find ‘challenging,’ and so it gets bracketed by beautiful, accessible pieces,” said Matthew Slater, assistant professor of philosophy. 

Slater and other faculty members also hoped students would begin to take full advantage of the incredible musicians the University hosts.

“I was also happy that this performance was better attended than, say, Jenny Lin’s performance last fall. We really get magnificent musicians coming through, we have a great space in which to host them, and it blows my mind that we’re not packing it full of students and faculty each time out,” Slater said.

The University continuously brings musicians, artists and authors to campus to try and provide some cultural air supply to the students in our bubble. With performances such as that of the Jupiter String Quartet, we can greatly enrich our college experience simply by walking across campus and lending an ear.

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