September 02, 2005
Quartet Completes UNI's String Offering
Chenoweth, Trahan, Halgedahl, Fetter
UNI’s newest faculty ensemble, Quartet Northern Iowa
Quartet Northern Iowa, comprised of violinists Frederick Halgedahl and former Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony concertmaster Therese Fetter, violist Julia Trahan and cellist Jonathan Chenoweth, will debut on the School of Music’s 24th Annual Scholarship Benefit Concert, Friday, September 30. The quartet not only adds viabililty to the String Division’s latest emphasis in graduate chamber music, but completes UNI’s list of highly regarded faculty ensembles. “This is something we’ve needed for a long time,” says Trahan. “This is something we’ve wanted for even longer,” adds Halgedahl, “but it took Julia’s energy and pertainaciousness to make it happen.” “Pertain… what???” explodes the violist. “It’s a compliment,” mumbles Chenoweth.
“Perhaps an idea who’s time had come.” Fetter explains, “I knew last winter that last season was my final one with the Symphony—Fred and I have now each been concertmaster of the group for ten years’ time—and Julia was being wooed by a quartet in the Denver area. Jonathan was a member of the Dakota Quartet for a time, Fred had started a quartet in Seattle… Things just fell into place.”
“We’re especially keen on travelling,” say Chenoweth. “It’s actually more difficult to get away individually, believe it or not, and less effective. We see this as the recruiting opportunity we’ve known we’ve needed since I began teaching here.”
Northen Iowa Symphony conductor Rebecca Burkhardt joins the conversation, “Though our studios are full, we need to just about double our majors in order to play the Romantic literature I’d like to explore. This will mean expanding our faculty, but if the students are knocking on our doors, that will come. I wanted the group to call themselves QuarTex – thought that might get some federal funding – you know, why not aim high?” “Don’t get me started,” quips Trahan. “Yes, by all means do not get her started,” adds Halgedahl.
“This playfulness,” he goes on, “it’s real – one of our strengths. Naturally we’re quite serious about the whole thing, because we’re all aware of the difficulty and the responsibility involved. The string quartet is, after all, the most difficult chamber ensemble to fine tune, and the literature is simply the greatest that exists. Sobering thoughts. But you can’t get bogged down in that, or in your own perceived deficiencies. You’ve just got to keep slogging and let things grow. Our playfulness keeps us fresh.”
Though busy faculty in a thriving School of Music (Halgedahl reports this year’s Freshman class to be one of the largest in the School’s history), the quartet plans to be out in Iowa’s schools as early as late fall. For availability and scheduling contact Dr. Julia Trahan, either by e-mail or phone (Trahanj@uni.edu, or 319–273–3074).