WT String Quartet to Perform at Carnegie Hall in May

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CANYON, Texas — A West Texas A&M University student string quartet will make its Carnegie Hall debut in the spring.

The JAMS Quartet recently won the collegiate strings category of the American Protégé International Competition of Romantic Music and will perform May 27 at the Weill Recital Hall in the legendary concert house in New York City.

“It feels surreal,” said Jasmin Caldera, viola player and sophomore health science/pre-dental major from Amarillo.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, and I don’t think it will until we’re done playing,” said Sydney Buckner, second violinist and senior animal science/pre-vet major from Amarillo.

The quartet is rounded out by Josenir Cerqueira Jr., first violinist and graduate student in instrumental performance from Criciúma, Brazil; and Anna Ng, cello player and freshman biology major from Amarillo.

Only Cerqueira is a music major, which is atypical for active string quartets, said Evgeny Zvonnikov, the Harrington lecturer in violin and Harrington String Quartet member.

“It is so unusual that three members of quartet are non-majors, and I really appreciate and respect their dedication. Besides their regular degree requirements, they are able to find time for personal practice, quartet rehearsals, orchestra rehearsals and private lessons,” Zvonnikov said. “And as an international student, Josenir also has a heavy load because he is still adapting to living and studying in a new country. All of them work so hard to meet their goals, which is reflected in their win.”

The quartet was formed four years ago when Buckner, Caldera and Ng were students at Tascosa High School in Amarillo. Caldera and Ng also performed together in Ensemble Next.

“Ensemble Next mentally prepared us for performing at this level,” Caldera said. “It was a wonderful experience for high school students.”

Ensemble Next, which was cofounded by Zvonnikov more than two years ago, offers select students weekly lessons with Zvonnikov, as well as masterclasses with guest artists and performance opportunities across the region, state and beyond. Ensemble Next has performed with the WT Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Music Amarillo in its first two years.

“As a coach, it is a pleasure to work with students who willing to put in extra work for their development as artists,” Zvonnikov said. “As a teacher, I pleased to see their progress and their professional development as chamber group and as individuals. I am glad that they have an opportunity to perform in one of the most famous concert halls in world. It’s great first step on their future professional journeys, wherever they might lead.”

JAMS will perform the first movement of Fanny Mendelssohn’s String Quartet. The Romantic-era composer was the older sister of the renowned Felix Mendelssohn.

“I had only ever heard her brother’s works, so being able to discover and explore her music is a great experience,” Ng said.

“For me, the first movement is very emotional,” Cerqueira said. “I can see conversations between the instruments and how the drama developed through the movement.”

The quartet will give an on-campus performance in the spring to raise funds for the trip. Details will be announced at a later date.

Fostering an appreciation of the arts is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $110 million.

 

 

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