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Chamber Music Series

 FRIDAY May 3 7pm
SUNDAY May 5 2pm

Season Sponsor


Concert Sponsor

Wilkinson Law

2023 - 2024

Along with Beethoven and Schumann, this concert presents the inaugural chamber selection for the GFSA’s Second Performance Project: Avik Sarkar’s From Voices, which includes recordings of remarkable narratives and stories from Boston’s immigrant community.


The Newberry

420 Central Avenue


First Congregational Church 

2900 9th Ave S

DSC_8290 Quartet web.jpg

Cascade Quartet


Ludwig van Beethoven
1770 – 1827
String Quartet in A Minor
Op. 18, No. 5

1798 – 1800

I. Allegro

II. Minuetto

III. Andante cantabile

IV. Allegro

Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 18, No. 5, was published in 1801 and was directly mirrored after Mozart’s quartet in the same key (K.464).  As part of his first set of string quartets (Op. 18), it demonstrates Beethoven’s deep engagement with the classical tradition while also foreshadowing the bold innovations that would characterize his later works.


The first movement, Allegro, opens with a graceful theme that showcases Beethoven’s mastery of classical form. The music unfolds with elegance and clarity, featuring interplay between the instruments and moments of thematic development that hint at Beethoven’s unique voice emerging from the classical conventions.


The second movement presents a charming dance-like character. Beethoven infuses the traditional minuet and trio form with his own rhythmic vitality and harmonic surprises, demonstrating his ability to breathe new life into established forms.


The third movement is a set of variations on a lyrical theme. Here, Beethoven showcases his gift for melodic invention and variation techniques. Each variation offers a fresh perspective on the theme, ranging from delicate and introspective to spirited and virtuosic.


The finale concludes the quartet with exuberance and wit. Beethoven’s playful approach to classical structure is evident here, with lively dialogues among the instruments and unexpected harmonic shifts that keep the listener engaged until the triumphant conclusion.

–Note by Christine Sherlock

Charles Schumann

1810 – 1856
String Quartet No. 1
"From the Salvation Army"


I. Introduzione. Andante espressivo - Allegro

II. Scherzo. Presto - Intermezzo

III. Adagio

IV. Presto 

Robert Schumann’s String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 41, No. 1, composed in 1842, reflects a pivotal moment in Schumann’s compositional career. This quartet belongs to a set of three quartets (Op. 41) that Schumann composed in a burst of creativity, known as his “year of chamber music.” Schumann conjures up qualities of Beethoven and Mendelssohn while at the same time foreshadowing characteristics of Brahms and Schoenberg. 


The first and longest movement begins with a brooding introduction leading into an impassioned allegro section, which with its emulative counterpoint insinuates Schumann’s strong acquaintance with Bach. Schumann’s lyrical melodies and rich harmonic palette imbue the music with emotional intensity and introspection, characteristic of his Romantic style.


The second movement is a lively and whimsical scherzo, which is usually presented as a third movement. Schumann’s playful rhythmic motifs and contrasting trio section create a delightful sense of motion and contrast, revealing his skill in crafting imaginative textures and characterful music.


The third movement unfolds as a poignant and lyrical adagio, with tender and expressive themes that evoke a sense of deep emotion and contemplation.


The finale brings the quartet to a vibrant conclusion. Schumann’s energetic and exhilarating finale showcases his mastery of counterpoint and motivic development, building to a thrilling and triumphant close.

–Note by Christine Sherlock


Avik Sarkar
b. 2000
From Voices

Commissioned and premiered by PUBLIQuartet at National Sawdust in Brooklyn


I wrote my electroacoustic string quartet From Voices in 2017, in a social and political moment when refugees and immigrants, especially those from the Middle East, were subject to heightened violence and injustice. I composed the piece for a benefit concert I organized with funding from the arts nonprofit From the Top's Alumni Leadership Grant. The concert, which raised over five thousand dollars for the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, featured a program of works by Arab and Middle Eastern composers.


At the heart of From Voices are recordings of interviews that I conducted with refugees and immigrants from the Boston area. I hoped to give a voice, even in a small way, to those otherwise silenced, marginalized, and erased -- hence the title. The piece is structured around the events in the life of a refugee, punctuated by the barbaric sounds of war and catastrophe, as well as the desire "to return to this land," In the recordings we can hear and feel the pain and trauma of the speakers, but also a glimmer of their hopes for survival as they look towards the future.


Avik Sarkar


Avik Sarkar is a pianist and composer from Brookline, Massachusetts. His work has received national and international recognition.


Avik won the Carlos Surinach Prize, awarded to the youngest winner of the BMI Foundation’s Student Composer Awards, alongside recognition from YoungArts, the Webster University Young Composers Competition, and the Tribeca New Music Young Composers Competition.


Avik's opera mother goddess, commissioned by activist opera company White Snake Projects, was premiered in November 2023 at Emerson Paramount Center in Boston.


His vocal work “Parting”—a setting of his own poem—was commissioned in 2020 for WSP's series Sing Out Strong: Decolonized Voices. WSP also commissioned his song “Now That Love Is Extinguished/Abuelita” in 2019 for SOS: Immigrant Voices.


In 2019, Avik’s string quartet Stray Birds was commissioned and premiered by PUBLIQuartet in Brooklyn.


He graduated magna cum laude from Yale in 2023 with distinction in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Avik’s vocal work “On the Life of Man” was performed by the LUCERIS vocal ensemble at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale.


This fall, Avik will pursue a master’s at Oxford in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, funded by the Clarendon Scholarship. In fall 2025, he will begin his JD at Harvard Law School. 

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