Close Encounters with Music Presents the Ariel String Quartet

Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 6 PM
The Ariel String Quartet–Schumann, Brahms, Janáček
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
Great Barrington, MA
Three “storied” string quartets share the theme of a love triangle. The first three years of Schumann’s marriage to his beloved Clara Wieck were an exceedingly productive period for the young composer, and the time when he focused on the genre of the string quartet, producing the String Quartet No. 2 in F Major, one of the most poignant and satisfying of his works. Brahms, Clara’s platonic and cherished confidante and friend, reportedly destroyed some twenty string quartets before allowing the two Op. 51 quartets to be published, the achingly beautiful A minor No. 2 being one of these. And from the heart of Central Europe in the first quarter of the twentieth century, comes the penetrating, challenging, occasionally disturbing and ever rewarding work by noted opera composer Leoš Janáček (Jenufa, Cunning Little Vixen, etc.), a musical recreation of Tolstoy’s short story “Kreutzer Sonata.” The Quartet No. 1, which in turn took its inspiration from Beethoven’s violin sonata of that name, was intended to protest the tyranny of men over women. In the novella, a wife seeks refuge from an unhappy marriage in the arms of an amoral seducer, and dies tragically after doing so, and the music reflects the plot. Czech polkas (Janáček), Hungarian folk dances (Brahms), movements by turn lyrical and propulsive—penetrating and amorous music adorn this program by the redoubtable Ariel Quartet, refashioned and re-titled “Love Triangles.”
“Playing with exceptional boldness and confidence — a blazing, larger-than-life performance that seemed to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit” (Washington Post)
The Ariel String Quartet: Gershon Gerchikov, violin; Alexandra Kazovsky, violin; Jan Grüning, viola; Amit Even-Tov, cello;


Tickets, $50 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $27 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, call 413-528-0100 or visit  Season subscriptions are $250 ($225 for seniors). Visit our website for more information.


Characterized by its youth, brilliant playing, and soulful interpretations, the ARIEL STRING QUARTET has quickly earned a glowing international reputation. The Quartet was formed in Israel sixteen years ago when its members were students and they have been playing together ever since. Recently awarded the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, the Quartet serves as the Faculty Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, where they direct the chamber music program and perform their own annual series of concerts. The Ariel recently made its debut at Carnegie Hall, presented music by three generations of Israeli composers at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and toured South America. They also collaborated with pianist Orion Weiss in a program commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War One. The Quartet appears widely in Israel, Europe, and North America, and continues to astonish with its performances of complete works by memory.  They toured with cellist Alisa Weilerstein during the 2013-14 season, and perform regularly with the legendary pianist Menahem Pressler. Additionally, they served as quartet-in-residence for the Steans Music Institute at the Ravinia Festival, the Yellow Barn Music Festival, and the Perlman Music Program, and were the Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-In-Residence at the Caramoor Festival. Formerly the resident ensemble in the New England Conservatory’s Professional String Quartet Training Program, the Ariel has won a number of international prizes including the Grand Prize at the 2006 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and first prize at the international competition “Franz Schubert and The Music of Modernity” in Graz, Austria, in 2003. After they won the Székely Prize for their performance of Bartók, as well as the overall third prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2007, the American Record Guide described them as “a consummate ensemble gifted with utter musicality and remarkable interpretive power” and called their performance of Beethoven’s Op. 132 “the pinnacle of the competition.” They spent a formative year in Basel, Switzerland, studying with Walter Levin, the founding first violinist of the LaSalle Quartet. The Quartet has received substantial scholarship support for the members’ studies in the United States from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Dov and Rachel Gottesman, and the Legacy Heritage Fund. Members of the Quartet are Gershon Gerchikov and Alexandra Kazovsky, violin; Jan Grüning viola; Amit Even-Tov, cello.


Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic director Yehuda Hanani puts composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time: Paul Schoenfield, Robert Beaser, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Jorge Martin, John Musto, among others to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Walter Ponce and Jeffrey Swann; violinists, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Erin Keefe; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, and Kelley O’Connor; the Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Avalon, and Dover quartets, and Cuarteto Latinamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.

Close Encounters on the Radio/Podcast

Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and audiences are encouraged to tune in to the new weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” on WAMC Northeast Radio. Visit


Through programs of the highest quality in dance, music, theatre and opera, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center ensures a diversity of talent on the stage and screen of our beautifully restored historic theater. Our goal is to present a variety of programs that appeal to all ages and interests, at ticket prices affordable to our community.


The Ariel String Quartet–Tchaikovsky, Arensky, Shostakovich
Saturday, March 17, 6PM
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA


Grand Piano Trios–Mendelssohn and Smetana
Sunday, April 29, 3PM
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA


The Faux and the Fabulous–ACRONYM Ensemble
Saturday, May 12, 6PM
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA


Gala:  Lenny at 100—Feel the BERNstein!
Saturday, June 9, 6PM
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA


The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center is located at 14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA.
Saint James Place is located at 352 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA.


A reception with light refreshments follows each concert October through May. A Patrons Gala Reception follows the June concert.


Conversations With…


“Russian and Soviet Film Music: A Tuneful Survey” is at The Mount (Lenox, MA) on Sunday, April 22 at 3 PM. $20 per person includes light refreshments.


CEWM in quotes…


“Great music played with great heart… There’s a palpable mystique about Close Encounters concerts. The evening never failed to fascinate!…”
–The Berkshire Eagle


“The Berkshires are home to distinguished cultural events, but none so brilliant, perhaps, as the chamber music series Close Encounters With Music.” —Berkshire Record


“…A stunning, majestic resolution, a brilliant ending to an unforgettable encounter with music.  Bravi!” —The Berkshire Edge


“…To experience the finest music ever written, presented by leading musicians of the day, in the inviting atmosphere of the Berkshires, is the best of all possible worlds. . . The quality of Lincoln Center with an intimacy that exceeds it….”

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