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Ara Gregorian, the founder and driving force behind the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival at East Carolina University for the past 10 years, has added a new hat to wear in his musical career. Gregorian has become a fulltime member of the nationally known Daedalus Quartet.
He is not giving up any of his other hats — faculty member and teacher, performer, and artistic director of the Four Seasons festival. Instead, he is fulfilling a longtime goal to join a string quartet. “I’ve always wanted to be in a string quartet. The Daedalus Quartet is already 10 years into a great career, and I can step into place to help build where they are going,” Gregorian says. He was selected earlier this year to replace a departing quartet member. His new position as a violinist with the quartet will not reduce his involvement in the chamber music festival in Greenville, nor will it reduce his commitment to teaching at ECU. “I will still be involved in the Four Seasons as fully as I ever have been. It will still get my full attention,” he says. And because his teaching involves mainly one-on-one instruction with ECU string students, he says that arrangement should be flexible enough to accommodate periods of time when he is away from Greenville with the quartet. “I feel that I’m getting to do many things that I love doing, getting to do all the things I love at the same time.”
The Daedalus Quartet is based in New York City (Columbia University) and Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania) for concerts and master classes, but the group’s annual season takes up almost the entire year, with between 50 and 80 concerts across the country and at international venues. The quartet also has released recordings (Haydn’s six Op. 20 quartets, for example), and that is expected to continue.
For all of Gregorian’s playing since leaving the Juilliard School, this is the first time he has been a fulltime member of a fulltime string quartet. “I always tried to wait for the right opportunity. This is thrilling, this is great, and I am having a wonderful time. Getting to play the string quartet repertoire is exciting to me.” The ensemble has built a repertoire that “spans the earliest quartets to pieces being commissioned now,” Gregorian says.
The quartet, with Gregorian aboard, will come to North Carolina October 8 for a performance in the Asheville Chamber Music Series and will be part of the Four Seasons series for a “Next Generations” concert November 14 at 3 p.m. The quartet also will play in the regularly scheduled January 13-14 pair concerts in the Four Seasons festival. Gregorian would like to bring the other three players to Greenville more frequently — not quite a “quartet-in-residence” arrangement, but that is something to explore, perhaps at a later time. Other notable stops in the 2010-11 season: December 8 at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, February 3 for a performance in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and April 25-May 8 for several concerts in Hong Kong.
Gregorian says he hopes that his new position with the quartet “will help continue all the positive energy that is happening with the festival and with the School of Music at ECU these days. “It is becoming a very exciting time that I want to continue to build on. I am still committed to ECU and the festival, as well as to my new responsibilities with the quartet. It is very exciting for me, and I think it is a win-win all the way around.”
For more information about the quartet's Asheville concert on October 8, click here. And for more information about the November 14 event, [see our calendar].