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April 12, 2013/For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu




(Winston-Salem) Composition students in the School of Music at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) will have the opportunity of a lifetime when their music is recorded on campus by the renowned Cassatt String Quartet. Music Dean Wade Weast announced that the award-winning quartet will be on campus as guest artists on Friday, April 26.

The recording session will take place in the Bill and Judy Watson Chamber Music Hall, which features state-of-the-art recording facilities.

The Cassatt String Quartet will record new compositions by graduate students Nicholas Rich of Greensboro and Bruce Tippette of Garner, and undergraduate Kenneth Florence of Raleigh. The rest of the composition students will attend the recording session, gaining valuable insights into the working methods of a group that has long been in the forefront of classical ensembles specializing in new music.

“It is quite a coup for emerging composers to have their music performed and recorded by a world-class ensemble like the Cassatt String Quartet,” Weast said. “I am thrilled that our students will have this opportunity, and I know it will enhance their educational experience.”

The Cassatt String Quartet                                        

Quartet member Jennifer Leshnower will give a violin master class on Thursday, April 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. in Watson Hall. It is open to the public.

Leshnower said it is an honor to work with UNCSA students. “Inspiring and challenging young musicians is one of the most meaningful and rewarding exchanges for the Cassatt String Quartet,” she said.

Acclaimed as one of America's outstanding ensembles, the Manhattan-based Cassatt String Quartet has performed throughout North America, Europe, and the Far East, with appearances at New York's Alice Tully Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Tanglewood Music Theater, the Kennedy Center and Library of Congress in Washington, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and Maeda Hall in Tokyo. The quartet has been presented on major radio stations such as Boston's WGBH, New York's WQXR and WNYC, Canada's CBC Radio and Radio France, as well as National Public Radio.

Lawrence Dillon, UNCSA’s composer-in-residence, said his students will remember the experience for the rest of their lives. “I have been teaching composition for almost 30 years, long enough to know that this will be a milestone event for the students involved,” he said.

Student composer Rich said he and his classmates are grateful for the opportunity. “I consider myself extremely lucky to hear their years of professional musicianship applied to my music,” he said.

Formed in 1985 with the encouragement of the Juilliard Quartet, the Cassatt initiated and served as the inaugural participants in Juilliard's Young Artists Quartet Program. Their numerous awards include a Tanglewood Chamber Music Fellowship, the Wardwell Chamber Music Fellowship at Yale (where they served as teaching assistants to the Tokyo Quartet), first prizes at the Fischoff and Coleman Chamber Music Competitions, two top prizes at the Banff International String Quartet Competition, two CMA/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, a recording grant from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, and commissioning grants from Meet the Composer and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2004, they were selected for the centennial celebration of the Coleman Chamber Music Association in Pasadena, Calif.

The Cassatt celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006 with a series of world premieres and a performance at the Library of Congress on the Library's Stradivarius Collection. Recently, the Cassatt offered concerts for the American Academy in Rome, Cornell University and Syracuse University; were guest clinicians at the Texas Music Educators Association; and gave mini-residencies at the Centro National de las Artes in Mexico City, Vassar College and the University of Texas at Austin.

Their residency at UNCSA is supported by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts.


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.