Aeolus Quartet Wins Plowman Chamber Music Competition, May 2011
The Aeolus Quartet, the resident graduate string quartet at the Butler School of Music was awarded the grand prize at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition this May in Columbia, Missouri. The competition, co-presented by the Missouri Symphony Society, the Odyssey Chamber Music Series, The University of Missouri School of Music, and First Baptist Church of Columbia, is one of the most prestigious chamber music competitions in the nation. The grand prize includes a cash award of $3500. The quartet's winning program included String Quartet no. 4 by Béla Bartók and String Quartet, op. 13 by Felix Mendelssohn.
The Aeolus Quartet, comprised of violinists Nicholas Tavani and Rachel Shapiro, violist Gregory Luce, and cellist Alan Richardson, is among the finest young quartets performing today. After forming in 2006 at the Cleveland Institute, the quartet was selected as the inaugural group for the Graduate String Quartet in Residence program at the Butler School of Music, beginning in fall 2009. Their activities at the Butler School include extensive teaching and performing responsibilities, educational outreach to the Austin community, and intensive study with the Miró Quartet.
In 2010, the quartet was awarded Judge's Special Recognition Prize at the Plowman Competition, shortly after Tavani was diagnosed with cancer and the group's future was uncertain. "Last year's Plowman came right after I was diagnosed with cancer," said Tavani. "It was a pretty dark time for us. Just to be able to make music with my dear friends again is a huge blessing. I'm so thankful to the Lord not only for healing me, but also for letting me continue to play. We are all humbled by this honor and look forward to playing together for many, many years to come."
Other awards the quartet have claimed include 3rd place at the 2010 International Chamber Ensemble Competition, where they made their Carnegie debut, and the top strings prize at the 2009 Coleman International Chamber Music Competition.
In fall of 2010, Aeolus released their debut recording on the Longhorn Music label, Aeolus Quartet plays Brahms and Bartók. The album includes live recordings of the Brahms String Quartet no 1 in c minor, op. 51, and the Bartók Quartet no. 5 Sz. 102. The record is distributed by Naxos and is available at major music retailers nationwide, including amazon.com and the iTunes music store. The Quartet will finish their studies at the Butler School of Music in May of 2011.
The Plowman Chamber Music Competition (PCMC) celebrated its inaugural year in 2006. Its purpose is to assist emerging chamber ensembles in their artistic development, to encourage them to pursue careers in chamber music, and to provide a forum for their talents. PCMC intends to raise Columbia's cultural status nationally through promotion of quality music. PCMC will support ensembles in achieving the highest level of accomplishment and foster a collegial environment among the participating musicians.