Faculty string quartet brings in record numbers

Sara Petersen

Group has been at KSU for five years

Professor Richard Serpe, chairman of sociology; Barb Boltz from the Office of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs; and Thomas Hensley, emeritus professor of political science, discuss the new May 4 Visitors Center during yesterday’s campus forum. DA

Credit: DKS Editors

The Miami String Quartet drew the biggest crowd it has ever seen at Kent State on Saturday night at its spring concert.

“They’ve never had to set up chairs before,” cellist Keith Robinson said.

Members of the quartet performed with guest pianist André-Michel Schub in Ludwig Recital Hall. Almost every chair was filled, including the extra ones placed in the back of the hall.

The Miami String Quartet is the Quartet in Residence at Kent State and includes Robinson, violinist Cathy Meng-Robinson, violist Yu Jin and violinist Ivan Chan, who did not perform Saturday because of an injury.

They have performed with Schub, a fellow musician and friend, more than 10 times during the quarter’s existence, and they enjoy working with him. The feeling is mutual.

“I’ve played a number of times with them,” Schub said. “It’s fun to go someplace where there are friends.”

The Miami String Quartet has been at Kent State for five years, but the quartet was established 21 years ago in Miami.

“It’s where we were founded and we lived there for the first 17 years of our existence,” Robinson said.

The quartet traveled throughout the United States and worked as the resident quartet and ensemble at many universities, including Florida International University and has always stayed together.

“(Breaking up) was never an option,” Robinson said. “The quartet has always been our main focus. We’re dedicated to the quartet.”

Fifteen years ago they started coming to Kent State to teach four or five times a year as a part of the Chamber Music of America residency grant. They decided to become the Quartet in Residency and faculty members at Kent State because the university has a good quartet program.

“(Kent State has) young players that are on a very high level,” Robinson said. “The reason we left our last school was because the grad quartet program was so visible, so experienced, and there were already good students here, so we came because of that.”

The quartet rehearses three hours every day and takes about four or five days to “really get in” a piece, Robinson said.

“It really is a life-long process,” Robinson said. “You go out and play it one time, that’s just the very beginning. About 40 performances in, it begins to sound like a real quartet.”

Contact performing arts reporter Sara Petersen at [email protected].