The Reynolda Quartet, acclaimed teacher-artists of the School of Music, will perform Farewells and Swan Songs at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 21 at Watson Hall. North Carolina Symphony principal cellist Bonnie Thron will join the quartet for Schubert’s String Quintet in C major. Also on the program is Dvořák’s String Quartet in D minor.
Tickets, at $ 25 regular and $ 20 student, are available online by calling the box office at 336-721-1945. Students, faculty and staff of UNCSA and Wake Forest University enter free upon prior registration. Watson Hall will be open to capacity and members of the public are required to wear masks. The concert will also be broadcast live for free as part of the Live from Watson Hall series. Register online for streaming instructions.
The quartet includes world-renowned musicians Ida Bieler and Janet Orenstein, violins; Ulrich Eichenauer, viola; and Brooks White House, cello. Founded in 2019 to exemplify a progressive partnership between two of Winston-Salem’s leading cultural organizations, Reynolda House Museum of American Art and UNCSA, the quartet gave their first concert on February 1, 2020, at Reynolda House. He will perform at Reynolda House again in March 2022.
“Winston-Salem is richly endowed with world-class collections of art and decorative arts, and those of us fortunate enough to live here have endless opportunities to hear world-class music,” said said Phil Archer, deputy manager of Reynolda House. “We are delighted that the Reynolda Quartet continues to delight audiences this fall and spring with performances that are sure to delight the senses, much like a trip to Reynolda.”
The title of the concert refers to ancient Greek mythology, which claims that the swan sings a single song of exquisite beauty just before its death. Schubert completed his transcendent C major string quintet in his final weeks of life, and many consider it his greatest instrumental work. Completed in 1828, the quintet was not performed in public until 1850.
Schubert’s unusual choice of a second cello as the fifth voice of the quintet, rather than a more traditional second viola, adds richness and depth to the sound of the string quartet. For this reason, Whitehouse said, cellists hold the piece close to their hearts.
“People hear it and wonder why there aren’t more cello quintets,” he said. “Every cellist lives to have the opportunity to play this piece of music.”
Although Schubert wrote the music in her dying days, Whitehouse said she was not moody but life-affirming, alternating between lively, energetic music and ecstatically broad depictions of eternity. “It’s remarkable to me that Schubert cares so much about this piece that he gives so much of himself when he’s really not well. It’s heavenly, and when you play it or listen to it, you just want it to last forever.
Like Schubert’s quintet, Dvořák’s D minor quartet “alternates between the robust and the timeless, with a slow movement that is kind of a melancholy sister movement of the quintet’s great Adagio,” Whitehouse said.
Dvořák composed his deeply personal String Quartet in D minor in 1877, a year of tragic loss for his family, with the deaths of two very young children. It was dedicated to his benefactor, Johannes Brahms.
“You get a feeling of nostalgia, just a tinge of nostalgia” in the quartet, he said. “There is a feeling of eternity, that this music doesn’t even belong to us. It continues right after you finish playing.”
It’s remarkable to me that Schubert cares so much about this piece that he gives so much of himself when he’s really not well. It’s heavenly, and when you play it or listen to it, you just want it to last forever.
Cellist Brooks Whitehouse
At one point in the music, the cello plays under sustained melodies of the violins and viola, in what the members of the Reynolda Quartet have called “the eternal heartbeat,” Whitehouse said. “The movement expresses something much greater than human sorrow or sadness. “
When planning the interpretation of Schubert’s quintet, guest artist Thron was a natural fit for the second cello. She and Whitehouse, both from New Hampshire, were lectern partners in a youth orchestra while in high school.
Thron joined the North Carolina Symphony as a solo cellist in 2000. As an active chamber musician and recitalist, she has performed with the Mallarmé Chamber Players and the Ciompi Quartet and joined the Jacobowitz-Larkin Duo to form a clarinet trio called Three For All. She has been a guest artist with the American Chamber Players in Washington, DC, and performs regularly in the district’s Musica Viva series. Thron has performed and recorded with the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble. As a guest artist and chamber music coach, she has a long history with the Apple Hill Chamber Players, including the group’s first Playing for Peace tour of the Middle East in 1991. Previously, Thron was a member of the Peabody Trio in residence at the Peabody Institute when the group won the Naumberg International Chamber Music Competition.
For the past few summers, she has been a guest artist and teacher at the East Carolina University Summer Chamber Music Institute. She also performs at the Sebago Long Lake Music Festival in Maine.
Early in his career, Thron was assistant principal cellist with the Denver Symphony for one season. She has performed concertos with the North Carolina Symphony, the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Panama National Orchestra, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and various other orchestras in North Carolina and New Hampshire.
Thron received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Juilliard School. His teachers are Lynn Harrell, Norman Fischer and Elsa Hilger.
About the Reynolda Quartet
Former student of the UNCSA School of Music, Ida Bieler joined the faculty in 2013 and was appointed artistic director of the school’s Chrysalis Chamber Music Institute when it was established in 2015. She has won prestigious music competitions on three continents, has been a regular performer in major capitals of music across the world, has recorded for radio and television on five continents, and has performed with major international orchestras. She is on the faculty of the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf, Germany, and the Kunstuniversität Graz, Austria. Bieler is the creator and director of the Vivaldi project, a teacher training program in Düsseldorf and at UNCSA, aimed at educating disadvantaged young people.
Ulrich Eichenauer joined the faculty in 2018. A former member of the award-winning Mendelssohn string quartet and principal violist of the Dresden Philharmonic, he previously taught at Harvard, the University of the Arts Bern and the Menuhin Academy in Switzerland, and has given master classes in the United States, Germany, Turkey, China, Taiwan and Japan. He was also a faculty member at Guildhall School in London.
Husband and wife string musicians Brooks White House and Janet Orenstein are the founding members of the Guild Trio, winner of the United States News Agency’s Artistic Ambassador and Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competitions. The ensemble has performed in the United States and Canada, as well as in Europe and Australia. The trio have been on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today” often and have also appeared on the University of Missouri’s “Premiere Performances” public television series and “Front Row Center” on KETC-TV9 in St. Louis.
Orenstein has performed in the United States and abroad as a chamber musician, soloist and advocate of contemporary music. As a chamber musician, she has performed at the Alice Tully and Merkin Concert Halls in New York, as well as at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC Orenstein has performed at the Apple Hill Chamber Music Festival in Nelson, New Hampshire; the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, Vermont; and the International Musicians’ Seminar at Prussia Cove in Cornwall, England. She joined the faculty of UNCSA in 2012 and has taught violin and chamber music at the University of Virginia, UNC-Greensboro (UNC-G), and Wake Forest University.
White House has performed and taught in the US and abroad, holding artist-in-residence positions at SUNY Stony Brook; the Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York; the University of Virginia; and Tanglewood Music Center. As a soloist he has performed with the Boston Pops, the New England Chamber Orchestra and other orchestras. His recitals throughout the Northeastern United States have been shown on WQXR’s “McGraw-Hill Young Artist Showcase”, WNYC’s “Around New York” and the Australian and Canadian Broadcast Networks. Whitehouse is also cellist with European group Atma Trio and duo Low and Lower with bassist Paul Sharpe. He has recorded for the Centaur, CRI and Innova labels. Prior to joining the faculty of UNCSA, Whitehouse taught at the University of Florida and UNC-G.
Reynolda is located on 170 acres in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and includes Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Reynolda Gardens, and Reynolda Village Shops and Restaurants. The museum presents a renowned art collection in a historic and incomparable setting: the original 1917 interiors of the 34,000 square foot home of Katharine and RJ Reynolds. His collection is a timeline of American art, and featured exhibits are offered in the museum’s Babcock Gallery and in guest rooms at the house. The gardens serve as a 134-acre outdoor horticultural oasis open to the public year-round, with colorful formal gardens, nature trails, and a greenhouse. In the village, the historic buildings of the estate now house a dynamic mix of shops, restaurants, shops and services. Plan your visit at reynolda.org and use the Reynolda Revealed mobile app to visit the domain yourself.
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