The Cassatt String Quartet and Onix Ensemble join forces

By Camie Sands and Bryan Townsend


During the second week of the 34th Annual San Miguel Chamber Music Festival, two acclaimed chamber ensembles will alternately present programs and combine forces for memorable collaborations.

Concert, The Cassatt String Quartet and Onix Ensemble Thu, Aug 9, Sat, Aug 11, 7pm, Sun, Aug 12, 5pm Teatro Ángela Peralta, Corr. Hernández Macías & Mesones , Reserved seating: 450, 350 pesos, balconies non-reserved 150 pesos

On Thursday, August 9, the Cassatt String Quartet, based in New York City and named after American painter Mary Cassatt, will open their program with George Gershwin’s 1919 Lullaby for Strings. Following is Dmitry Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 8, written in only three days in1960, and dedicated by the composer to the “victims of fascism and war.” The program closes with Frenchman Claude Debussy’s ground-breaking string quartet dating from 1893, which displays Debussy’s fascination with sensual textures and impressionistic sonorities,

On Friday, August 10, the Cassatt String Quartet will be joined in concert by Alejandro Escuer, flautist, and Edith Ruiz, pianist, of the Onix Ensemble. The collaborative program opens with Voyage for Flute and Strings by contemporary American John Corigliano, who wrote, “There is nothing else but grace and measure, richness, quietness and pleasure.” Following are two contrasting quartets for flute and strings – Mozart’s in A major, and Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness’ mysterious work. Pianist Edith Ruiz joins the Cassatt for Hungarian Ernő Dohnányi’s powerful Piano Quintet in C minor to conclude the program with romantic fireworks galore.

The concert on Saturday, August 11,  features the Cassatt String Quartet alone in the first half, opening with Russian Romantic Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet No. 2, written in 1881 and dedicated to his wife Ekaterina. Audiences will recognize popular themes, which were later borrowed for the 1953 hit musical Kismet. Czech composer Antonín Dvořák’s Cypresses continues the program with music utterly fresh and lyrical. The Cassatt Quartet will close the first half with Seville-born Joaquín Turina’s La Oracion del Torero,written in 1925 to evoke the prayer of a bullfighter and the dramatic atmosphere of the bullring. For the second half climax of this concert, the Cassatt will be joined by clarinetist Fernando Dominquez of the Onix Ensemble for the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, one of the most beloved masterpieces in all of the chamber music repertoire.

Sunday, August 12, will spotlight the Onix Ensemble, a distinguished group of Mexican musicians dedicated to Latin American music and who serve as faculty at the National University of Mexico. Their varied and dynamic program will present Darius Milhaud’s suave Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano and young Guadalajara native Juan Pablo Contreras’ Silence in Juárez for clarinet, violin, cello & piano. The mixed quintet of flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano will join forces to present Taroncher’s Homenaje A Chillida, Halka’s Por La Fuerza las Tierras, Piazzola’s Tango del Diablo and Montauge’s Paramell I. This intriguing program promises to end the Festival’s second weekend with colorful repertoire and brilliant performances. The following week the Atlanta Chamber Players will close the San Miguel Chamber Music Festival on August 16, 17 and 19, including two Latin American premieres and a world premiere encore written especially for San Miguel audiences. Individual concert tickets are now on sale at the Peralta Theater Box Office, from 10am-5pm. Telephone: 415-152-2200. Prices 450-150 pesos. For Festival Patron Packages and Season Tickets call 154-8722 or 150-0041 for personal assistance. Pricing, benefit packages, complete music programs, and group biographies available at

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