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Becker and Friends to Feature Hyperion String Quartet

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (Oct. 10, 2009 )-- The SUNY Plattsburgh Department of Music presents Karen Becker and Friends Saturday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in E. Glenn Giltz, Auditorium, Hawkins Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.Pianist Becker will perform with the Hyperion String Quartet, currently based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The concert will feature a piano sonata by Beethoven, a string quartet by Schubert and a piano quintet by Schumann.

Now in its fifth year, Becker's popular recital series Karen Becker and Friends serves as a showcase for local and regional artists as well as for visiting guest performers from around the country.

The concert features works from the Classical and Romantic periods. Becker will open the concert with "Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13" by Beethoven. Audience members may recognize this piece, also known as "Sonata Pathetique." Also on the program is "String Quartet No. 12 in C Minor, D. 703" known as the "Quartettsatz," a one-movement work composed by Franz Schubert when he was 23 years old.

The concert will conclude with a four-movement work by Robert Schumann, "Piano Quintet in E Flat Major, Op. 44."

The day before their Plattsburgh performance, Becker and the quartet will be taking their recital on the road to the SUNY Plattsburgh Branch Campus at Adirondack Community College in Queensbury, N.Y. Becker and the Hyperion String Quartet will perform their concert preview on that campus Friday, October 23, at 12:45 p.m.

Dr. Karen Becker

Becker is an assistant professor at SUNY Plattsburgh and is one of the area's most popular performing artists. She has performed in venues across the country and has served as conductor and music director for a wide range of performing groups. In addition to the Karen Becker and Friends recital series, recent regional performances include appearances at the SUNY Plattsburgh Branch Campus in Queensbury, N.Y., and at the Essex, N.Y., recital series. In 2009, Becker served as music director for a full season of repertory theater in Dillon, Colo. Among the productions in Dillon were "The Glorious Ones" and "It's a Grand Night for Singing." In the spring of 2010, Becker will return to the University of Wisconsin to study the Beethoven cycle of 32 sonatas with her former teacher, Christopher Taylor, under the auspices of the Nuala McGann Drescher sabbatical leave.

Regional performance highlights include appearing as a guest artist on the Hill and Hollow concert series, and collaborating with artists and students from the Meadowmount Conservatory. Other recent performances include recitals in St. Paul, Minn., New York City and Long Island, N.Y., and Denver, Colo. In 2007, Becker traveled to Cairo, Egypt, where she was a featured artist on the Ewart Hall Concert series at American University.

Becker currently serves as artistic director of Champlain Valley Voices and SUNY Plattsburgh Choral Union. She conducted the 90-member chorus, soloists and orchestra in Handel's "Messiah" (2008) followed by "The Great American Songbook Vol. II: Broadway Duos" (2009). Also in 2008-2009, she served as musical director for performances of "A Hand of Bridge," "A Game of Chance" and "Guys and Dolls" at SUNY Plattsburgh and "Fiddler on the Roof" at AuSable Valley High School. In addition, she was the music director for "Classic Broadway" by the Lyric Scenes Workshop at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Becker has worked as music director and conducted many shows on tour at the Dillon Theater and at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in Colo. She has acted as conductor and assistant conductor for the Colorado Symphony Chorus, pianist for the Colorado Symphony, and appeared in many venues in the inter-mountain West as a solo recitalist. She has worked as a pianist for the American Opera Project at New York City Opera, a piano soloist for the Summergarden series at the Museum of Modern Art, a keyboard player in the Philip Glass Ensemble, and as a featured pianist on the Music from Japan series at Columbia University. While in New York City, Becker was a champion of contemporary music, playing premieres by John Cage and rarely heard music by Charles Koechlin and Eric Satie.

Becker holds degrees in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School, as well as a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Wisconsin where she was a student of Van Cliburn medal winner, Christopher Taylor. While at the University of Wisconsin, she was featured as soloist in the "Concerto for Piano and Winds" by Igor Stravinsky, with the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, an organization she helped found, and served as pianist with the UW Symphony and Chamber Orchestra.

Hyperion String Quartet

Described as "vivacious" by New York City's WQXR public radio and "a single living breathing organism -- bringing grand and glorious life to the music" by Classical Voice of North Carolina, the Hyperion String Quartet has won first prizes at the Coleman, Music Teachers National Association and the Green Lake chamber music competitions, and was the bronze-medal prizewinner at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. In 2008, they were among the top 10 string quartets chosen from around the world to participate in the 6th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition. Since their formation in 1999 at the Eastman School of Music, they have performed in a variety of venues from California to New York's famed Lincoln Center and have had live radio and television appearances in California, Connecticut, New York, Wisconsin and Canada. Members of the quartet have performed with such artists as Toby Appel, Melvin Chen, Jennifer Frautschi, Benny Kim, Anne Marie McDermott, Lorna McGee, Sophie Shao, Eugenia Zukerman, and the Miro and Rossetti String Quartets.

The quartet is currently based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where they are directors and coaches for the chamber music program of the Saratoga Springs Youth Orchestra. They were recently the inaugural Joseph Fisch/Joyce Axelrod Resident String Quartet at San Diego State University in association with the La Jolla Music Society. They have also been the graduate string quartet in residence at Kent State University (2002-2004) and at the Hartt School (2004-2005) where they served as teaching assistants to the Miro and Miami String Quartets.

The quartet has been selected to participate in such prestigious programs as the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar and the Emerson Quartet International Chamber Music Workshop. They were the young quartet in residence at the Strings in the Mountains Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colo., in 2002 and 2003 and served as the young artist ensemble in residence at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in 2005 and 2006. They also held a two-week residency with the Western Piedmont Symphony in Hickory, N.C., in 2007.

The quartet is highly dedicated to music education and performed community and outreach concerts on behalf of the La Jolla Music Society and San Diego State University as part of their residency. They were artists in residence for Young Audiences of Rochester and also held residencies for New Performing Arts of Kentucky in 2002 and 2008, which gave them the opportunity to teach chamber music to students of all ages. Members of the quartet served as adjunct faculty in the community division of the Hartt School, as well as mentors to the Connecticut Youth Symphony. From 2006 to 2008, they were the faculty string quartet in residence at the Montana Chamber Music Workshop where they taught and coached chamber music.

Members of the Hyperion String Quartet include Amanda Brin (violin), Elissa Cassini (violin), Frederic Lambert (viola) and Jonathan Brin (cello).

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