This week on Introductions, two chamber groups from two music schools, both of which reached the quarter-finals of the 2021 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. The Carmen Quartet is entirely made up of high-school senior fellows of the Music Institute of Chicago Academy; and the Golden Trio hails from Midwest Young Artists Conservatory with the unusual combination of violin, double bass and piano. Thank you to Veronica Rokicki and Miriam Kessler for appearing as interview guests, and thank you to Rob Waller and Aleksandar Radovic for their recordings.
The Carmen Quartet, coached by Sang Mee Lee, consists of four recently graduated high school seniors: violinists Veronica Rokicki and Katharine (Kate) Nelson, violist Kimberly LaFranzo, and cellist Eytan Raviv. Kate and Veronica were both students at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy, while Kimberly and Eytan participated solely in the Academy’s chamber music program. They received second place in the annual Rembrandt Chamber Music Competition, and reached the quarterfinals in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.
Veronica and Kate are both students of Almita Vamos and Davis King. Veronica was a semi-finalist in the District 214 Honors Orchestra Concerto Competition for two years in 2018 and 2019. In addition to this, she was a two-time merit scholarship recipient from Birch Creek Summer Music Festival. She has also been a merit scholarship recipient from Midwest Young Artists Conservatory. Kate has taken masterclasses and lessons with distinguished artists, and received Honorable Mention in the DuPage Concerto Competition in 2020 and in the CYSO Concerto Competition in 2018.
Eytan Raviv, a student of Hans-Jørgen Jensen and a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, is the winner of numerous Chicago area competitions. He has appeared as a soloist with the Northeastern Illinois University orchestra, and with members of the bands Wilco and The Decemberists. Kimberly, a student of Michael Lieberman, was part of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras’ Debut, Concert, Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras, finishing as Section Principal.
Eytan gave a solo recital on Introductions in December 2020; Veronica appeared as a member of Quartet Lucciola in July 2020; and Kimberly has appeared twice in CYSO episodes in February 2021 and June 2021.
The word Carmen is Latin for poem. Just as a poem contains symbolic meanings, the quartet hopes to convey symbolic meaning to each person who listens. Whether it be hope, anger, remorse, serenity, or cheerfulness, they want to instill a deep love of whatever piece they perform.
The Golden Trio was officially formed at the Opus Chamber Music Camp in the summer of 2018, and is coached by Lyudmila Lakisova at Midwest Young Artists Conservatory. 15-year-old Sofia Radovic and 16-year-old Miriam Kessler have a long history of performing together, dating back to 2013 with Westminster Christian String Ensemble. They had the pleasure of meeting now 16-year-old Ian King at a Christmas chamber performance in 2016 and have performed since at weddings, parties, retirement homes, church services, and competitions.
This versatile chamber group can perform in various combinations with violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, and harp. As a trio, they had the pleasure of performing with the Youth Symphony of DuPage Concerto Competition winner in February 2018, creating their own chamber accompaniment. All three currently perform as members of the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory Symphony Orchestra.
They are especially grateful to those who have inspired their playing, including their coach Lyudmila Lakisova, orchestra director, Dr. Allan Dennis, Desirée Ruhstrat and Tatyana Stepanova. The musicians have played at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Harris Theater, Ravinia, Wentz Hall, Chicago Botanic Garden, Northwestern University Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, University of Chicago International House and Cantigny Amphitheater. When not playing together, the group enjoys creating theatrical music videos, arrangements and compositions with their younger siblings.
Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet in B-Flat, Op. 76, No. 4, Sunrise:
I. Allegro con spirito
Johannes Brahms: String Quartet in A minor, Op. 51 No. 2:
II. Andante moderato
Felix Mendelssohn: String Quartet, Op. 44, No. 1:
IV. Finale, Presto agitato
Katharine Nelson, 18, violin
Veronica Rokicki, 18, violin
Kimberly LaFranzo, 18, viola
Eytan Raviv, 17, cello
Coached by Sang Mee Lee through the Music Institute of Chicago Academy.
Bedřich Smetana: Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 15:
III. Finale, Presto
Astor Piazzolla: Four Seasons of Buenos Aires:
I. Verano Porteño
Sofia Radovic, 15, violin
Ian King, 16, double bass
Miriam Kessler, 16, piano
Coached by Lyudmila Lakisova through Midwest Young Artists Conservatory.