Concert pays tribute to Cowans

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 The Los Alamos Concert Association presents the Borromeo String Quartet in a concert dedicated to the memory of George and Helen “Satch” Cowan, local patrons of the arts whose service to the community of Northern New Mexico will long be remembered.
“Satch” passed away in 2011 and George died last year.
Beginning with George’s service on LACA’s Board of Directors in the early 1950s, he and his wife supported the association’s efforts to bring great music to Los Alamos for more than 60 years. LACA’s unique program offering free tickets to young people, master classes with its artists and other youth outreach events will continue into the future thanks to the Cowan’s generosity.
Since their debut in 1989, the Borromeo String Quartet have become one of the most sought after strings quartets in the world, performing over 100 concerts of classical and contemporary music across three continents every season.
Audiences and critics alike champion their ability to bring back the contemporary fire to often heard works from the classic repertoire while making even the most challenging new music approachable.
As one of today’s most adventurous quartets, they continue to push musical, intellectual, and technical boundaries to a level achieved by only a very few.
The Borromeo have been redefining the classical music landscape through innovative uses of Macbook Pro laptops, video projection and iPads in performance.
They use on-stage projections of hand drawn original manuscripts by composers like Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mozart and Schubert to vividly illustrate the creative process hard at work, a practice which has excited audiences of all ages.
In schools, their use of technology is proving to make classical music now very relevant to students who have grown up in the digital age.
The Borromeo makes their own videos and live concert recordings while on tour using Final Cut Pro and After Effects, and in 2003 started an on-demand recording project, the Living Archive, making it possible for listeners to experience many of the quartet’s concerts around the world.
In his feature story on the quartet, “Bytes and Beethoven,” New York Times reporter Dan Wakin stated “The digital tide washing over society is lapping at the shores of classical music. The Borromeo players have embraced it in their daily musical lives like no other major chamber music group.”
The Borromeo collaborates extensively with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Library of Congress, and can be heard throughout the year on National Public Radio and Public Radio International.
It was the ensemble-in-residence for NPR’s Performance Today in 1998 and 1999, and its longstanding residency at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has been called “one of the defining experiences of civilization in Boston,” by the Boston Globe.
The group performs an ongoing series at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York City as well.
As quartet-in-residence at the New England Conservatory of Music for
20 years, the Borromeo have opened the “doors of perception” to a generation of young musicians who are now themselves being heard by audiences around the world.
Their informal public masterclass series held at NEC, called “Early Evenings with the Borromeo,” regularly attracts standing-room-only crowds. The ensemble returns to the Taos School of Music in New Mexico this summer for its eighth season of mentoring outstanding young musicians.
In 2007, the Borromeo String Quartet received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, and since 2006, the Aaron Copland House has honored the quartet’s commitment to contemporary music with its Borromeo String Quartet Award, which introduces the work of important young composers to audiences internationally.
The quartet recently released a CD of music by Béla Bartók, Gunther Schuller and Mohammed Fairouz, which features both live and studio versions of Schuller’s String Quartet no. 4. Gramophone Magazine hailed the “great clarity and beauty” and “ravishing fury” of the BSQ’s studio recording of masterworks by Beethoven, and their CD featuring works of Maurice Ravel was honored with the Chamber Music America/WQXR Award for Recording Excellence in 2001.
The Los Alamos Concert will feature three pieces: Igor Stravinsky’s 3 Pieces for String Quartet; Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat major, Op. 127; and Antonin Dvorák’s String Quartet No. 13 in G major, Op. 106. The concert will be Saturday in the Duane Smith Auditorium.
Tickets are available through the Los Alamos Concert Association web site losalamosconcert.org or at CB Fox and Smith’s grocery stores.
Visit Borromeo’s web site at