USC held a Faculty String Quartet Recital for the first time on Tuesday night. Professors Ari Streisfeld, William Terwilliger, Daniel Sweaney and Robert Jesselson from the School of Music came together to perform the works of Mozart, Phillip Glass and Brahms. They chose music that showed an audience what a string quartet can really accomplish.
Many different kinds of people showed up for the recital, including School of Music students who couldn’t help but be impressed by their teachers' performance.
"It was great. One really cool thing is that I’d played the Glass, and I think it’s really good that they bring in contemporary music,” Austen Speare, a third-year violin performance student, said.
Events like these help students like Speare, who is in a string quartet himself, plan for their future in the School of Music and beyond.
“I really want to find some way to be in a situation where I can play in a string quartet like they do at least regularly, if not professionally,” Speare said.
Cellist Robert Jesselson says he has finally lived out one of his biggest dreams by performing in a string quartet.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for here at USC ... I’m in my 36th year and we have never had a quartet like this,” Jesselson said. "It's amazing to play with those guys, and you learn something from each of them."
Going into the concert, the quartet couldn’t practice as frequently as professionals do, but they were still able to commit to their goal of performing something that has not been seen at USC before.
“So, a quartet like that will play for four or five hours a day, and with our teaching schedules we really don’t have that opportunity, but we did a lot of practicing for this and you know, it was a lot of fun. We all grew,” Jesselson said.
Jesselson tried to focus on the big picture that was the night’s performance and felt proud of what he and the other musicians did on stage.
“Just being able to learn the music is an accomplishment, but trying to take it to the next levels, and working on intonation and working on ensemble and rhythm and those kinds of things.”
When he looks back at his nearly four decades at USC, Jesselson sees growth in not only himself, but in the School of Music in general.
“To have seen it change and grow over these 36 years has been really, really wonderfully amazing to me to witness that,” Jesselson said.
In contrast to Jesselson's many years of experience at USC, this is only Ari Streisfeld’s second year on faculty. Still, the recital got to the heart of who he is as a musician.
“It's exhilarating. String quartets are some of the greatest music ever written and it’s what I've always loved playing,” Streisfeld said.
Streisfeld has been impressed by the School of Music in his short tenure here, and — like Jesselson — sees the school accomplishing a lot going forward.
“We have wonderful students, wonderful faculty, we all get along really well and we make wonderful music and doing really great things at this school," Streisfeld said.