This preview has been provided by the St. Stephen’s Concert Series.

On Sunday, March 8 at 4:00 pm the internationally acclaimed Borromeo String  Quartet will make its annual appearance at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Durham.  Their program, part of the current season of the church’s concert series, will consist of the six string quartets by Béla Bartók.  The six quartets, which have a total playing time of nearly three hours, will be played in the order in which they were written.  There will be two intermissions, a short one after quartets 1 and 2, and a longer one after quartets 3 and 4.  During the second intermission a light dinner featuring Hungarian food will be served in the church’s parish hall.

Gyula Szilayzi, a Hungarian chef in Chicago, will provide goulash (gulyas leves) for the dinner, and the Hungarian Club of Durham will prepare desert crepes (palacsinta).  Agnes Janoshazi, a member of the church who regularly elevates Sunday morning coffee hours to great culinary heights, will make poppy seed pasta (makostizta), one of Bartok’s favorite dishes.

Past concerts at St. Stephen’s have often included a half hour pre-concert discussion with the artists.  For this special Bartok event there will be a one hour Online Encounter titled “Paths not Taken.”  This will include draft movements of quartets 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 illustrated by the Borromeos.  This material was uncovered by first violinist, Nicholas Kitchen, through his work in  the Bartók Archive in Budapest.  The manuscripts will be shown with the permission of Bartók’s son, Peter.  This Online Encounter will be available a couple of weeks before the concert.  A link to it will be found on the concert series web site,

And there is more.  In the church’s parlor there will be repeated showings of a 15 minute video called “Trekking with Bartók.”  Prepared by Nicholas Kitchen, the video lets the audience hear the sounds Bartok recorded in the Hungarian countryside and shows the process by which he brought this music into his own compositions.  The video will be run throughout  the second Intermission and also after the concert.

The Borromeos have performed the Bartók quartet cycle numerous times to critical acclaim.  When the quartet performed the cycle last spring in Boston’s Jordan Hall, Brian Schuth described the concert as “easily the most profound and intellectually engaging experience I have had this concert season.”  Later in the review he said that the performance was “a cathedral warmly lit from within by an intense fire.”  Durham fire fighters have been alerted.

Tickets ($25) will be available at the door.  The concert is free for those 18 or under.