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Fall Arts Celebration concert to take audience on musical tour of Italy

  • The Tesla Quartet

Posted on September 10, 2018

Inspired by numerous enjoyable escapes from harsh Russian winters, composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s love of Italy is reflected in his “String Sextet in D Minor, Op. 70 ‘Souvenir de Florence.’”

This musical tour of Italy will be performed by the internationally acclaimed Tesla Quartet and Grand Valley music faculty members during this year’s Fall Arts Celebration. 

“An Italian Journey: Tesla Quartet performs Tchaikovsky’s ‘Souvenir de Florence’” will take place September 17, at 7:30 p.m., in the Cook-DeWitt Center on the Allendale Campus. The concert will be preceded by a carillon concert featuring Julianne Vanden Wyngaard, university carillonneur, at 7:10 p.m. at the Cook Carillon Tower.

The Tesla Quartet will open the program with “Quartet in B minor, Op. 33, No. 1” by Franz Joseph Haydn, and then be joined by Paul Swantek, affiliate professor of viola, and Pablo Mahave-Veglia, associate professor of cello and Early Music Ensemble director, to perform “Souvenir de Florence.”

Best known as a master composer of symphonies and ballets, Tchaikovsky crafted this work through a rich blend of well-known Italian street songs and melodies.

“The music of Haydn is timeless and the music of Tchaikovsky opens us up to the romantic century which defined his compositions,” said Danny Phipps, chair of Grand Valley’s Music, Theatre, and Dance Department. “Having both of these masterpieces performed with a new and fresh perspective and vision will be an extraordinary treat.”

Formed at The Julliard School in 2008, members of the Tesla String Quartet include Ross Snyder (violin), Michelle Lie (violin), Edwin Kaplan (viola) and Serafim Smigelskiy (cello). The quartet regularly performs across North America and internationally, with recent appearances in Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Hungary, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

“What I think will stand out to our audiences is how much they love what they do,” said Phipps. “Their playing is virtuosic and brilliant, and they are very personable. All of this is apparent when they perform, adding to the audience’s enjoyment.”

The quartet has won numerous awards and prizes at international competitions, including the 2017 John Lad Prize; the Gold Medal at the 2012 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; and Second Prize, Haydn Prize, and Canadian Commission Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition.

The quartet’s first album, “Haydn, Ravel, Stravinsky,” debuted on September 7.

Community involvement and outreach are integral aspects of the quartet's mission as they perform inspiring music at children's hospitals, soup kitchens, libraries, retirement communities, schools and more.

For more information about Fall Arts Celebration, visit All events are free and open to the public.