Chiara String Quartet recording nominated for Grammy

Members of the Chiara String Quartet are (from left) Jonah Sirota, Julie Yoon, Rebecca Fischer and Gregory Beaver.
Members of the Chiara String Quartet are (from left) Jonah Sirota, Julie Yoon, Rebecca Fischer and Gregory Beaver.

Composer Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartet No. 3, part of the Chiara String Quartet’s Jefferson Friedman Quartets CD released this year on New Amsterdam Records, has been nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition from the Grammy Awards. The 54th Grammy Awards ceremony is Feb. 12.

The Chiara String Quartet includes Rebecca Fischer and Julie Yoon, violins; Jonah Sirota, viola; and Gregory Beaver, cello. The Chiara have been in residence in UNL’s School of Music since 2005.

“We’re thrilled that our recording of Jefferson Friedman’s Third String Quartet, part of our recent CD featuring two quartets by the composer, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition,” said Sirota. “We have worked with the composer for more than 10 years, and he wrote the piece for the Chiara Quartet, so this is a great validation of a very special and fruitful artistic collaboration. We couldn’t be more excited for Jefferson, as well.”

The Chiara String Quartet premiered Friedman’s Third String Quartet in the spring of 2005 at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City.

“We now had two full quartets from this wonderful composer,” Sirota said. “Since he wrote both pieces for our group, and they were both such great works, we thought it fitting to record them together.”

Friedman also brought his friends Matmos, an electronic music duo, on board to remix both quartets.

“Those remixes are included on the album, as well, and make a very cool counterpoint to the quartet texture,” Sirota said.

The album also features cover art by artist Anthony Hawley, husband of Chiara first violinist Fischer.

“It’s a very 'friends and family' kind of record,” Sirota said.

Renowned for bringing fresh excitement to traditional string quartet repertoire as well as for creating thoroughly insightful interpretations of new music, the Chiara String Quartet captivates and enthralls its audiences throughout the country. Over its first decade, the Chiara has established itself as among America's most respected ensembles, lauded for its “highly virtuosic, edge-of-the-seat playing” (The Boston Globe).

The Chiara Quartet was formed in 2000 and has been Artists-in-Residence at UNL since 2005. As part of its work at UNL, the Chiara organizes and teaches a chamber music performance class, performs for the public and for classes and lectures in the School of Music and teaches a small number of instrumental students. The Chiara Quartet also serves as Blodgett Artists-in-Residence (a visiting residency) at Harvard University.

The Chiara Quartet's honors include a top prize at the Paolo Borciani International Competition, winning the Astral Artistic Services National Audition, and First Prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. Awarded the Guarneri Quartet Residency Award for artistic excellence by Chamber Music America, the Chiara Quartet has also been the recipient of grants from Meet The Composer and the Amphion Foundation.

On April 26, New Amsterdam Records released the Chiara's recording of composer Jefferson Friedman's String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3. Both celebrated pieces, which "already deserve to be heard as classics of this decade" (the New York Times) were commissioned by the Chiara, and are the result of a more than 15-year friendship with the composer.

— Kathe Andersen, Fine and Performing Arts