One Class Act

Tokyo Sting Quartet opens Strings in the Mountains Series

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— Violinist Martin Beaver is a familiar face at Strings in the Mountains. The Canadian performer has wowed chamber music audiences for several seasons.

He's returning Saturday night to play once more under the white top. And this time around, he's bringing a few friends with him.

Beaver joined the Tokyo String Quartet last year. Four Japanese musicians founded the world-renowned chamber ensemble in 1969 in New York City, but the quartet's roots trace back to the Toho School of Music in Tokyo. The quartet has experienced its share of musical chairs in the past few years, with Beaver being the newest member.

Violist Kazuhide Isomura is the only founding member left. Second violinist Kikuei Ikeda joined the group in 1974 and cellist Clive Greensmith of England came on board in 1999.

Their 2002-03 tour consists of stops in New York City, Paris, Beijing, London and Berlin, so it's no wonder organizers of the 2003 chamber music season are thrilled the group's schedule includes a night in Steamboat Strings.

"They are the most internationally renowned classical ensemble we've ever had," said Sheri Steiner, director of development and marketing.

Saturday's gala concert marks the kickoff to Strings' 16th season of chamber music. Steiner can think of no better group to launch the next six weeks of classical music.

Strings Executive Director Betse Grassby agrees. The Tokyo String Quartet has a worldwide audience; music lovers are in for a treat when such highly reputed musicians take the stage Saturday, she said.

The ensemble will perform Mozart's String Quartet in G, K. 387. The number of players will double for a performance of Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat, Op. 20. Violist and Strings Music Director Yizhak Schotten, violinists Jonathan Crow, associate concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony, and Soovin Kim, winner of the 1986 Queen Elisabeth Competition, and international cello soloist Peter Rejto round out the octet.

It's an all-star lineup of musical talent, Grassby said.

Members of the Tokyo String Quartet have been the quartet-in-residence at the Yale School of Music since 1976. The group instructs young string quartets at Yale during the academic year and heads to the Norfolk Music Festival in the summer. The ensemble regularly holds master classes throughout North America.

A complimentary champagne and dessert reception presented by the Guild of Strings and Albrecht's Bakery and Cafe follows the gala chamber concert, which begins at 7 p.m.

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