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Renowned Russian quartet to bring classical sounds to HBPA concert

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The second Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts event of the 2011-12 season will feature the “blissful” sounds of the St. Petersburg Quartet on Bethel College’s Memorial Hall stage.

The string quartet, which is currently in residence at Wichita State University, will perform Sunday, Nov. 13, at 3 p.m.

Quartet members are Alla Aranovskaya, 1st violin, Evgeny Zvonnikov, 2nd violin, Boris Vayner, viola, and Leonid Shukayev, cello. Aranovskaya and Shukayev are founding members of the SPSQ. Vayner joined in 2005 and Zvonnikov in 2010.

The St. Petersburg Quartet is one of the world’s most esteemed chamber ensembles. Some of its distinctions: a Grammy nomination; “Best Record” honors in both Stereo Review and Gramophone; an opening night performance at Mostly Mozart at Lincoln Center; a five-year residency at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music; and hundreds of concerts on and in many of North America, Europe and Asia’s most prestigious stages, series and festivals.

Highlights of recent seasons in North America include playing the opening concert of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center quartet series (the New York Times praised the SPSQ’s “sumptuous account of Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No.1”); a collaboration with Van Cliburn gold medalist Olga Kern; a tour with violist Michael Tree of the Guarneri Quartet at the Library of Congress; three concerts at New York’s Metropolitan Museum with the late Ruth Laredo; and a 17-concert tour of Canada, during which a Toronto Globe and Mail reviewer wrote, “Bliss, for this listener, doesn’t get much more unequivocal than the St. Petersburg Quartet’s performance.”

The SPSQ has, in recent years, toured the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Israel and the United Kingdom, where Tchaikovsky Piano Competition winner Peter Donahoe called their collaboration “some of the most sublime moments of chamber music-making I have ever experienced.”

Founded in 1985 as the Leningrad String Quartet, the SPSQ blazed a trail through chamber music circles, winning a number of prestigious international competitions including first prize at the All-Soviet Union String Quartet Competition; a silver medal and a Special Prize at the Tokyo International Chamber Music Competition; first prize and both Special Prizes at the Vittorio Gui International Competition for Chamber Ensembles in Florence; and first prize and the Grand Prix Musica Viva at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. When the city of Leningrad resumed its historic name, the quartet changed its name to the St. Petersburg String Quartet.

In 2009, the SPSQ launched the St. Petersburg International Music Academy, an intensive summer program for students, which they bring to various campuses and festivals in the United States and Mexico. In 2010, the SPSQ was appointed the inaugural Quartet in Residence at WSU.

HBPA director Matthew Schloneger noted that while the SPSQ is performing regularly in Wichita this year, their Bethel program “will feature entirely different repertoire that Wichita audiences may not have heard.”

On the Nov. 13 program is Five Miniatures on Jewish Folk Themes by Sulkhan Tsintsadze (1925-91); the “Chaconne” from Partita No. 2 in D minor for solo violin by J.S. Bach (arr. Vayner); Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Opus 95, “Serioso”; and Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No. 2 in F major, Opus 22.

The latest releases in the SPSQ’s extensive discography include recordings of Ravel and Debussy quartets as well as Tchaikovsky’s complete chamber music repertoire.

For more about the musicians, a complete discography and other information, see the quartet’s website,

Single ticket prices for the St. Petersburg Quartet range from $15 to $18, depending on seating section, with discounts available to students and senior citizens.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 316-284-5205 (Bethel College) or 620-327-8158 (Hesston College), e-mail or visit the HBPA website at

Other concerts in the series include YouTube musical sensation Igudesman and Joo, traditional Irish music and dance rhythms with the highly acclaimed Celtic Crossroads and ancient choral music by the Rose Ensemble. Visit for dates and times.

This program is presented in part by the cities of Hesston and North Newton, with generous underwriting by area patrons.

The Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts Series, now in its 30th year, started in 1982 as the Hesston Performing Arts Series (HPA) with funding and planning provided by Hesston College and the Hesston community. In 1998, HPA planners launched a partnership with Bethel College (North Newton) and the name changed to Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts. Hesston College and Bethel College host five performances by world-renowned or regionally acclaimed artists each year.

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