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Arts / Entertainment

Amani String Quartet gains professional experience

April 29, 2009

Enjoy an afternoon of best-loved quartet repertoire including Haydn's String Quartet in C Major, Op. 20, No. 2, Smetana's String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor "From My Life," and Webern's Five Pieces for String Quartet, Op. 5. The Graduate String Quartet Program is made possible by a donation from

Amani String Quartet
Free concert
Thursday, April 30, 3 p.m.
Organ Recital Hall
University Center for the Arts
1400 Remington St.
A behind the scenes look at the Quartet

Eleven minutes and ten seconds, exactly. Not a second later, the Amani String Quartet finishes the surreal sounds and special effects of Anton Webern's Five Pieces for String Quartet, Op. 5.

The graduate students sustain their final notes in the contemporary work, extending the atonal voice in a decrescendo until all is silent. Suddenly, all sensitivities to noise are realized: the dull murmur of the practice room. The soft buzz of the lights. A pen scratching on a clipboard.

Meanwhile, to the west, the foothills of the great Rocky Mountains look on through a window view. It is a calm, clear and bright spring afternoon as Colorado State University’s resident graduate string quartet sits in perfect stillness, ushering not a sound.

The quartet holds the “rest” another four seconds. Time ticks away to a tempo of 60 beats per minute. Then, after the fifth beat of silence, violinist Wyatt True makes his entrance.

“All right,” he says to the quartet. “Good.”

The four players

The Amani String Quartet has been Colorado State University’s resident graduate string quartet since 2008. Under the direction of Margaret Miller, the quartet performs and instructs throughout Northern Colorado and holds frequent recitals, masterclasses, and outreach programs at local high schools for student orchestras and chamber groups.

The quartet is comprised of three students mastering in performance and one student, Cynthia Drexler, in music therapy.

  • Kaleigh McCool, violin
  • Cynthia Drexler, violin
  • Wyatt True, violin
  • Lisa Espinosa, cello

All four players share the inextricable love of music, specifically the love of the quartet. Professional aspirations within the group include quartet playing, orchestra playing, private lessons, coachings, freelance, teaching, and music therapy.

Margaret Miller coordinates the quartet program and coaches the group for one-and-a-half to two hours a week. The quartet rehearses four days and eight hours a week on average.

“There’s a tremendous balancing act that they need to do, because they also have their coursework,” Miller says. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s also really good preparation for the kind of music life that they might have.”

In addition to rehearsing for the quartet and maintaining individual practice, the players also attend classes; rehearse with the orchestra; prepare for master’s recitals; and grade for Music Appreciation, MU 100.

International travel, intensive rehearsing

Amani looks to a summer of labor of love, combining international travel, intensive rehearsing, and exciting opportunities. These fresh experiences will enable the quartet’s continued growth – musically, professionally and interpersonally – as the players head toward the second year of camaraderie.

The quartet’s impressive summer lineup includes two out-of-state chamber music study programs.

The destinations include the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Chamber Music Institute, in June, for a weeklong intensive and the Orvieto Musica in Orvieto, Italy, for a three-week international chamber music intensive spanning June through July.

Members of the Amani String Quartet are no strangers to international travel, as players have already perused France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Poland, Israel, Portugal and Spain. However, the players say they look forward to meeting Italy’s landscapes, buildings and culture.

At least one quartet member says she will opt for the Italian language lessons.

“I’m taking it for sure,” laughs Lisa, who already speaks conversational French and Spanish. The players smile as she does, meeting her words with a ripple of laughter.

Full story

Accepting sponsorships

The Amani String Quartet is accepting sponsorship for the trip to Italy. For more information, please contact Jennifer Clary at (970) 491-3603, or contact the Quartet directly.

Original story written by Shayna Grajo.

Contact: Jennifer Clary
Phone: (970) 491-3603