The Altius Quartet, a group of four graduate students in the Division of Music at SMU Meadows School of the Arts, took first place in the strings and piano division at the biennial Plowman International Chamber Music competition in Columbia, Mo., over the weekend of April 6-7. The group prevailed against eight other ensembles to win the $2,000 division prize.
The Plowman Chamber Music Competition was inaugurated in 2006 to assist emerging chamber ensembles in their artistic development, encourage them to pursue careers in chamber music and provide a forum for their talents. The contest provides an opportunity for non-professional musicians to perform in front of an outstanding panel of nationally chosen judges for cash awards. In collaboration with the Mizzou New Music Initiative at the University of Missouri School of Music, the 2013 competition included a five-day festival of master classes, concerts and lectures by internationally acclaimed guests and musicians.
Judges for this year’s competition included cellist Peter Wiley, Orlando Cole Chair in Cello Studies at the Curtis Institute of Music and a faculty member of Bard College Conservatory of Music; pianist Frederic Chiu, a concert and recording artist; and Randy Gardner, professor of horn and chair of the winds and percussion department at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Altius musicians include violinist Sercan Danis, who earned a B.M. in violin performance in 2011 at the Meadows School and is currently pursuing a Performer’s Diploma (P.D.); violinist Andrew Giordano, who is earning an M.M. in violin performance; violist Andrew Krimm, who is pursuing a P.D.; and cellist Zachary Reaves, who received his B.M. in cello performance at Meadows in 2011 and is currently pursuing a P.D. All expect to graduate in May 2013.
The Altius Quartet was formed in 2011 for the purpose of performing in Bridge the Gap chamber music events; Bridge the Gap, founded by Altius member Reaves, is an unorthodox series of chamber music performances designed to attract those who otherwise would avoid classical music. Bridge the Gap performances are often held in non-traditional places such as city parks. In these relaxed settings, ensembles play Beethoven as well as Jimi Hendrix.
The quartet has performed at venues in Texas and Oklahoma and recently participated in the Western Slope Concert Series in Grand Junction, Colo. Altius has also performed for respected string quartets and classical music pedagogues, including the Miró Quartet, the Shanghai Quartet, violinist Tim Ying and violist Roberto Diaz, who is president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music.
Altius is scheduled to perform with SMU Meadows Professor of Cello Andrés Diaz and Visiting Artist-in-Residence and Director of Chamber Music Matt Albert at 8 p.m. April 20 in the Meadows School’s Caruth Auditorium, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. For more information, visit http://mcs.smu.edu/calendar/event/facultystudent-artist-recital-series-0.
The group will also appear in the Bridge the Gap chamber music festival at 7:30 p.m. on May 2 and 3 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary and on May 4 at 3 p.m. at Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas. Also in May, they will perform in the Fischoff National Chamber Music competition at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Next year they plan to tour Colorado as part of their residency in the Western Slope Concert Series. For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/AltiusQuartet.