DukeUniversity Ciompi string quartet to play in Blaine thisSaturday

Published on Thu, Mar 8, 2007 by Jack Kintner

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Duke University Ciompi string quartet to play in Blaine this Saturday

By Jack Kintner

Duke University’s Ciompi String Quartet, one of the country’s top string ensembles, is coming to town this weekend to headline in the fifth concert in the Blaine Pacific Arts Association’s 2006-2007 season.
The world class ensemble was founded in 1965 by Duke music faculty member Giorgio Ciompi. It’s still made up of four Duke University music faculty members, violinists Eric Pritchard and Hsiao-mei Ku, viola player Jonathan Bagg and cellist Fred Raimi.

They will be joined in their program by two more world class musicians, Blaine’s Joe Robinson (oboe) and Ted DeCorso (clarinet). Robinson came to Blaine after retiring from a career with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra two years ago and DeCorso spends much of July here as artistic director of the Blaine Jazz Festival.

It’s no exaggeration to say that both are as capable on their instruments as anyone now living, and Blaine is lucky to have them playing for the evening in such distinguished company.

The program consists of works by Mozart, Brahms and the British composer Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975). Bliss’s Quintet for Oboe and Strings, written in 1927, has great variety.

The second movement is a dreamy andante con moto that will dazzle the audience with Joe Robinson’s crystalline tones on the oboe. That’s followed by a vivace so lively it’s almost violent, like a heavy metal riff in the middle of a piece that seems written just to test the players’ capacity for up-tempo teamwork.

Samples can be heard by going to www.amazon.co.uk and searching for “Bliss Chamber Works”.

Mozart wrote his Quartet in A Major, the piece that opens the concert, in 1785 when the instrument that Fred Raimi uses to play it was already nearly a century old.

Made by Vincenzo Ruggieri in Cremona, Italy, in 1691, the instrument is a good example of the kind available in Mozart’s own day. It’s now well into its fourth century of making music, and is appropriately pampered – when Raimi travels, the cello gets its own ticket and seat.

The Brahms is a little more relaxed than either piece but is a great example of music from the romantic period designed to show off a particular instrument like a vine shows off a piece of architecture, in this case Ted DeCorso’s matchless clarinet playing.

The concert is in Blaine school district’s Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for the concert, $10 for students and seniors.

“For this concert only,” said Pacific Arts Association board president Bob Boule, “any student who comes with a paying adult gets in free.”

Tickets are available at the door and at Smuggler’s Inn, Pacific Building Center, Steamers, Village Books, Semiahmoo Resort, Northern Meadow Gifts and the Blaine Visitor’s Center.