Music School Faculty Quartet to share best of chamber music, best of friendship

A key component in making music is spending countless hours in a practice room, improving. But those hours pass quickly when spent with beloved colleagues.

“It’s nice to not just make music with other faculty, but friends,” said Arie Lipsky, cellist for the Music School Faculty Quartet.

Lipsky and the rest of the foursome take the stage at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall as part of the Logan Chamber Music Series. This afternoon’s program consists of works by Jean-Marie Leclair, Joseph Haydn and Robert Schumann, and it features some of the most prolific works written for chamber strings.

“We thought for a summer program, for a summer audience, why not just play the best of everything we could think of?” said violinist Kathryn Votapek.

Votapek and her husband, Aaron Berofsky, will open the concert with a Leclair violin duo that Lipsky said was included partially to introduce the two artists to the Chautauqua audience.

The violinists were married after performing for more than a decade in the Chester String Quartet together. Now, they are faculty both here in Chautauqua and at the University of Michigan. Votapek and Berofsky also serve as assistant principal and principal concertmaster, respectively, in Lipsky’s Ann Arbor Symphony. They spend a lot of time together, which is good considering how Votapek said she loves playing music with her husband.

“We sort of know how each other works. He’s easy to rehearse with, easy to play with — not easy to live with,” she said jokingly.

The quartet exists as a natural part of their faculty role at the School of Music, but their relationship extends beyond their time on the grounds. Violist Caroline Coade also serves as faculty at University of Michigan alongside Votapek and Berofsky, and she said both the proximity of living in the Greater Detroit Area and the small world of classical music bring them into the same practice studio.

“I guess Arie [Lipsky] is our glue that sort of pulled us all together,” Coade said. “He’s our connection.”

Together as friends, faculty and artists, the quartet said they are excited to perform in Lenna Hall. The venue’s unique seating arrangement provides the audience a birdseye view of the ensemble as they perform, which the artists said creates an intimacy that can only enhance the performance quality.

“It’s a little like playing in an expanded living room — that kind of close, personal connection with the audience,” Coade said.

While they all hope audience members will join them in that living room, Lipsky said he mostly just enjoys performing chamber music. That opportunity, he said, keeps him coming back to Chautauqua.

“I think it’s safe to say for all of us, whenever we go to a festival like this, look for good chamber music opportunities,” Lipsky said. “It’s maybe the thing I look forward to most. It feeds our soul.”