MASTA Chamber Festival

The 2015 MASTA Chamber Music Festival was a great success! Twelve string quartets enrolled and met at Eastern Michigan University on February 24th for a day dedicated to chamber music. Thanks to our sponsors Marshall’s Music Company, Baroque Violin Shop, Shar’s Music, and D’ Addario Strings for making the event possible! Thanks also to EMU for hosting!

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The day started with opening remarks from Nathan Peters, MASTA coordinator, and Diane Winder, Department Head of Music and Dance at EMU. Then, Dmitri Berlinsky, Natalia Bezuglova, and Igor Cetkovic performed one movement of the Tchaikovsky piano trio and one movement of the Shostakovich piano trio for student and guests. (Mr. Berlinsky is MSU Associate Professor of Violin. Natalia Bezuglova and Igor Cetkovic are MSU Doctoral students.) The performance of these guest artists captivated students and guests with its range of expression and beauty of tone. After the performance, Dan Foster, EMU Professor of Violin, led the students through stretching exercises to help them learn about preventing injury and to prepare for the day.

The student quartets participated in three hour-long sessions with guest teachers during the day. One session was a coaching on their prepared piece. Another session was a reading session combining student string quartets into a large group to read standard chamber literature. The third session was a music theory class, which helped students better understand the music that they were playing. Thanks to our guest artists, Dan Foster, and Dr. Melissa Gerber Knecht for coaching the quartets! Thanks to Pat Smith for leading the reading sessions! (She said that the students did very well this year.) Thanks to Dr. Mathew Fuerst for teaching the music theory classes! (Many students stayed after class to ask Dr. Fuerst questions about music.)

One of the students from Traverse City had her birthday while at the festival. She celebrated her special day with a cake at lunch and shared a piece with all festival participants! This was happily accepted by many students and added to the feeling of camaraderie at the festival!

After lunch and three sessions were completed, students began warming up for the competition recital. Nine string quartets competed for a cash prize and for a scholarship to the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. All of the student quartets performed successfully.

Two quartets were selected for runner up designation: Leah Pernick, Elizabeth Stratton, Sarah Garcia, Joshua McGlendon and Newton Ni, Whitney Zhou, Ellen Yang, and Amadeus Twu. One quartet was designated the winning ensemble: Chihiro Kakishima, Elena Chambers,  Chris Young, and Matthew Young.   This ensemble is from Ann Arbor. Their coach is Caroline Coade of the Detroit Symphony. They will represent MASTA with several performances at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, May 7-9 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI

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We are looking forward to the MASTA Chamber Festival 2016, as this will be the 25th year of the festival! MASTA member are encouraged to plan ahead to have students participate and to send suggestions of ways to celebrate this milestone to Nathan Peters, MASTA Chamber Music Festival Coordinator.


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