Omaggio String Quartet and Purple Hippopotami Flute Trio

May 29, 2021, 11:00 am

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Today on Introductions, we have two chamber groups: the Omaggio String Quartet from the Music Institute of Chicago Academy, and the Purple Hippopotami Flute Trio from Merit School of Music, playing Kuhlau, Haydn, Debussy, Tomasi, Walker, Prokofiev, and Beeftink. Members of both groups have appeared on Introductions in the past. Thanks to ensemble members Elinor Detmer and Katherine Chen for helping introduce today’s pieces, and thanks to Rob Waller and Daniel Larson for these recordings.

Omaggio String Quartet

Omaggio String Quartet. Left to right: Jan Vargas Nedvetsky, Elinor Detmer, Abigail Park, and Tara Hagle; with their coach Mathias Tacke.

The Omaggio String Quartet is comprised of Abigail Park and Tara Hagle, both 17, violins; Elinor Detmer, 16, viola; and Jan Vargas Nedvetsky, 14, cello. All four students are Fellows at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy, a pre-college training program for gifted musicians. The quartet is coached by artist faculty member, Mathias Tacke.

In 2021, the group won the Bronze Medal at the St. Paul Chamber Music String Competition, as well as the Audience Prize, Haydn Honorable Mention, and BIPOC Honorable Mention (Black, Indigenous, Persons Of Color). They also advanced to the semifinal round of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, in a year the group worked hard to find opportunities to practice during the Pandemic when in-person instruction was canceled at MIC.

“Omaggio” is an Italian word that means homage, tribute, or gift. The string quartet feels that every composition or performance is an homage to the listeners. They chose the word omaggio to express their love and appreciation for performing, and the gratitude they feel in having the opportunity to share music with their audience.

This quartet appeared two weeks ago on the Fischoff live coverage episode. Members of the quartet have appeared separately: Abigail Park as a member of the Insieme Piano Trio in July 2020; Elinor Detmer as a member of the Aurora Piano Quartet in June 2020; and Jan Vargas Nedvetsky in Trio Primavera in August 2020 and as a soloist in January 2021.

Purple Hippopotami Flute Trio

The Purple Hippopotami Flute Trio. Left to right: Hannah Xie, Katherine Chen, Emma Westerfield.

The Purple Hippopotami Flute Trio is made up of Emma Westerfield, 17; Katherine Chen, 16; and Hannah Xie, 18: three flutists from Chicago and Indiana who have come together at Merit School of Music’s prestigious Conservatory program, coached by Betsy Ko. Though the Purple Hippopotami had been a quartet for the past eight years, uncertainty surrounding their rehearsals during the pandemic led to them becoming a trio for 2020-2021. This made them reflect on what it truly meant to be an ensemble – performing as a group rather than as individuals.

In their program, they explore music from 19th-century Germany, 20th-century France, and the 21st-century United States. During their free time, Emma loves cooking, Hannah enjoys running, and Katherine likes playing badminton.

Katherine Chen appeared on Introductions as a member of a predecessor group, the Purple Hippopotami Flute Quartet, in May 2020.


Friedrich Kuhlau: Flute Trio in E minor, Op. 86, No. 1:
I. Allegro

Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet in C, Op. 74, No. 1:
IV. Finale, Vivace

Claude Debussy: String Quartet
I. Animé et très décidé

Henri Tomasi: Trois Pastorales for flute trio:
I. Bolivienne
II. Crétoise
III. Sicilienne

George Walker: Lyric for Strings

Sergei Prokofiev: String Quartet No. 2 in F, Op. 92
I. Allegro sostenuto

Herman Beeftink: Birds for piccolo, C flute and alto flute
I. Birdsong
II. Flight
III. The Journey

Some music is excluded from the podcast for copyright reasons.