The Miró Quartet, one of America’s most celebrated string quartets and the first ensemble ever to be awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant, will be joined by Kristin Wolfe Jensen, professor of Bassoon at The University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music. The program features Joseph Haydn’s quartet “The Lark”, and “Meeelaan” for bassoon and string quartet by Wynton Marsalis – American composer, trumpeter and jazz legend.
Check out the full 8th Annual International Music Festival lineup at: mbaw.org/imf
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
The Miró Quartet is one of America’s most celebrated and dedicated string quartets, having been labeled by The New Yorker as “furiously committed” and noted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer for its “exceptional tonal focus and interpretive intensity.” For over twenty-five years the Quartet has performed throughout the world on the most prestigious concert stages, earning accolades from critics and audiences alike. Based in Austin, TX, and thriving on the area’s storied music scene, the Miró takes pride in finding new ways to communicate with audiences of all backgrounds while cultivating the longstanding tradition of chamber music.
In their 2021-22 season, the Miró premieres a new work entitled Microfictions written for them by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw. The work has been commissioned for the quartet by an impressive consortium of presenting organizations including Carnegie Hall, Shriver Hall, the La Jolla Music Society, Premiere Performances (Hong Kong), and Chamber Music Houston. The Miró is also partnering with renowned soprano Karen Slack in a new program exploring the works of Florence Price and Margaret Bonds. Additional upcoming performances include ones for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Shriver Hall, Music Toronto, the Phoenix Chamber Music Society, and Chamber Music Northwest.
The Miró celebrated its 25th anniversary in the 2020 season by performing a wide range of repertoire that pays homage to the legacy of the string quartet and also looks to the future of chamber music and string quartet playing in the U.S. In honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth at the start of the pandemic, the Quartet undertook a remarkable project during which they broadcast live performances of the composer’s complete string quartets remotely from venues throughout Austin, TX for the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival and audiences from around the world in summer 2020.
The Miró concluded its recording cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets with the release of a complete box set on Pentatone in November 2019. The ensemble began this recording project in 2005 with the release of the Op. 18 quartets, and the finished cycle represents not only Beethoven’s journey as a composer but also a 14-year journey for the Quartet.
The Quartet also continued its Archive Project, honoring the American string quartet tradition by recreating historic recitals by iconic, early 20th-century ensembles, including the Flonzaley, Kneisel, and Kolisch Quartets. In past seasons, the Miró has performed a program, conceived by the Kneisel Quartet for its own 25th anniversary in 1910, featuring works by Mozart and Schubert paired with new music at the time from Glière, Franck, and Servais. Performances took place at Weill Recital Hall (where the Kneisel Quartet also frequently performed) presented by Carnegie Hall, and at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, as well as in Toronto, ON; Troy, NY; and Clemson, SC. The Miró also performed the Kolisch Quartet program with which the ensemble made its 1935 American debut. This debut included the world premiere of Bartók’s Quartet No. 5 and the U.S. premiere of Berg’s Lyric Suite, and the Miró performed this program in Austin, TX and Indianapolis, IN.
The Miró Quartet has championed the music of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts for more than a decade, and in the 2019-20 season it premiered a new string quartet titled Home, composed by Mr. Puts for the Miró’s 25th anniversary. The work was presented by a consortium of commissioning partners, including the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival in Eastsound, WA (world premiere), Chamber Music Detroit, and Chamber Music Tulsa. Alongside that, the Miró also performed Credo, the composer’s first work written for them (also featured on the recording The Miró Quartet Live!), in cities across the U.S.
Additional highlights of recent seasons include a sold-out return to Carnegie Hall to perform Beethoven’s Op. 59 quartet, performances for the New York Philharmonic with Gabriel Kahane, appearances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (both in New York and at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Detroit Chamber Music Society), and performances at The Phillips Collection, Chamber Music Monterey Bay, Green Music Center, and Emerald City Music in Seattle. The Quartet also recently debuted in Korea, Singapore, and at the Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival. A favorite of summer chamber music festivals, the Miró Quartet has recently performed at La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, OK Mozart, and Music@Menlo. The Miró regularly collaborates with artists such as violinist Martin Beaver, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, percussionist Colin Currie, cellist Clive Greensmith, and clarinetist David Shifrin, as well as with pianists Wu Han, Anton Nel, Jon Kimura Parker, and André Watts.
Formed in 1995, the Miró Quartet was awarded first prize at several national and international competitions including the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Naumburg Chamber Music Competition. Deeply committed to music education, members of the Quartet have given master classes at universities and conservatories throughout the world, and since 2003 the Miró has served as the quartet-in-residence at the University of Texas at Austin Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music. In 2005, the Quartet became the first ensemble ever to be awarded the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant.
Having released many celebrated recordings, the Miró recently produced an Emmy Award-winning multimedia project titled Transcendence. A work with visual and audio elements available on live stream, CD, and Blu-ray, Transcendence encompasses philanthropy and documentary filmmaking and is centered around a performance of Franz Schubert’s Quartet in G major on rare Stradivarius instruments. The Miró records independently and makes its music available on a global scale through Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube.
The Miró Quartet took its name and its inspiration from the Spanish artist Joan Miró, whose Surrealist works — with subject matter drawn from the realm of memory, dreams, and imaginative fantasy — are some of the most groundbreaking, influential, and admired of the 20th century. Visit miroquartet.com for more information.
Kristin Wolfe Jensen has been the bassoon professor at The University of Texas at Austin since 1995, and is also on the faculty of the International Festival Institute at Round Top, Principal Bassoonist with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, and a licensed Body Mapping Educator. In addition she has made a number of acclaimed solo and chamber music recordings.
A reviewer in the American Record Guide said of Ms. Jensen’s solo CD Shadings, “…She has simply turned in the finest-played bassoon recital I have ever heard….She obviously sees tone quality as the foundation for her fluent technique…It is a ravishing sound, siren-like in its attractive flair….Ms. Jensen could teach a lot about musicality to a number of famous violinists….” Her recent releases include Handel: The “Halle” Sonatas” (2017, Equilibrium label), Modal Cycle – Live from France (2016, Longhorn Label), and …and Kristin Wolfe Jensen, UT Bassoons in Collaboration (2015, Longhorn Label). Fanfare Magazine wrote of her 2010 release, Parables and Reflections, bassoon music of Virko Baley, on the TNC label, “Baley has given her ample opportunity to showcase her virtuosity; she’s unfazed by rapid passages demanding agility and precision, she has mastered the Baroque technique of counterpointing melodious phrases with pedal tones, she alternates effortlessly between themes separated by register to create the illusion that a solo instrument can conduct a dialogue with itself, and she suavely overcomes the potential pitfalls that long-lined legato phrases pose for wind instrumentalists”. Many of her performances appear on her YouTube channel.
Ms. Jensen is Founder and Artistic Director of the biennial Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition for young women bassoonists from the Americas, providing the largest prizes of any bassoon competition in the world. She has given guest recitals and master classes at many major American music schools and her former UT students hold major orchestral positions, military band positions and university teaching positions around the country. Her extensive online bassoon method, MusicAndTheBassoon.org, provides an innovative, multimedia approach to learning the bassoon.
Formerly, Ms. Jensen served on the faculties of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of North Texas. Ms. Jensen has toured Europe with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, served as Principal Bassoonist and faculty member at the Eastern Music Festival and Acting Principal Bassoonist of the Houston Grand Opera, and has been a member of The Dallas Opera Orchestra, the Richardson Symphony, the Las Vegas Symphony, Jupiter Symphony of New York and Continuum. She has performed solo recitals at several International Double Reed Society conferences, and was co-host of the 2005 conference in Austin. As a student, she won the concerto competitions at the Juilliard School of Music in 1990 where she received her MM, and the Oberlin Conservatory in 1989 as an undergraduate, which led to performances of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto, k. 191.