Lux String Quartet

Lux String Quartet

On Sunday February 21st, 2016, we had the privilege of hosting an afternoon of music by composer Heath Mathews at the Savage Arts and Cultural Center. Admission was free.

Lux String QuartetLux String Quartet, pianist Stephen Self and composer Heath Mathews presented a concert of new music. Members of Lux and Dr. Self premiered Mathews' Outdoor Scenes, a new work for piano trio, along with other selections from the composer’s catalog. Additionally, the renowned Lux String Quartet performed Prokofiev's stunning second quartet. The concert included a discussion of the compositions and a reception followed the event.

Heath Mathews is a fiscal year 2015 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Musician bios

Stephen Self, Piano

Stephen SelfAs a professor at Bethel University in St. Paul, Dr. Stephen Self teaches organ, piano, and music history. He is active as a solo and collaborative pianist throughout the Twin Cities.

Self is an active member of the American Guild of Organists. He is a Fellow of the Guild, the highest certification level offered, and in 2000, he received the S. Lewis Elmer prize for the highest score of all major certification recipients of that year.

A published musicologist, he specializes in music of the Medieval and Renaissance periods.

Erika Blanco, violin

A Southerner from the coast of South Carolina by birthright and Midwesterner by recent transplant, Erika holds a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from Vanderbilt University and a master’s degree in violin performance and Suzuki pedagogy from the University of Minnesota. She studied under the late Stephen Panchaud, assistant concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, before transferring to Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music under Blair String Quartet first violinist Christian Teal.  Most recently, she - herself a product of Shinichi Suzuki's Mother Tongue philosophy and talent education movement, has studied at the University of Minnesota with Suzuki pioneer Mark Bjork. She is Suzuki violin-registered in volumes 1-10 in addition to enrichment courses; her trainers include Carol Smith, Ronda Cole, Kimberly Meier-Sims, Mary Cay Neal, Nancy Lokken, Brian Lewis, Kathy Wood, Nancy Jackson, and of course, Mark Bjork. Though trained classically, Erika enjoys jammin’, stompin’, and shakin’ in any setting: homegrown folk, fiddlin’, rockin’-and-a-rollin’, salsa, and the new music scene.

Aside from Lux, Erika performs in the Quad City Symphony Orchestra's first violin section and Twin Cities-based salsa group Charanga Tropical and maintains a teaching studio at home and with Augsburg College Suzuki Talent Education. Professionally, her passion is to nurture an appreciation for beauty, collaboration, and the learning process, and personally, to be spurred on by great musicians and colleagues and to participate in the transcendental euphoria of chamber music. Erika delights in playing her commissioned 2012 Kurt Widenhouse violin.

Sam Rudy, violin

Sam Rudy earned his master's degree in Music Theory from the University of Minnesota. Since then he has been active as a teacher and performer of orchestral, solo, and chamber music across the Midwest. He has served as concertmaster of Orchestra Iowa and the Mankato Symphony Orchestra, as well as holding posts with the Quad Cities, Waterloo-Cedar Falls, and La Crosse Symphony Orchestras. He collaborates regularly with contemporary composers, including a commission from Colin Holter of The Senses Tablecloth, a work for violin and piano. As a founding member of both Lux String Quartet and Enkidu string quartet, he has worked with professional as well as student composers to perform new works at the Cedar Cultural Center, University of Minnesota, and the New Horizons Music Festival, including performance in a masterclass for internationally renowned Stanford composer Brian Ferneyhough.

Rudy has attended several summer festivals, including the National Orchestral Institute Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific, and is a co-founder of the Oskaloosa Chamber Music Festival in Oskaloosa, Iowa. A firm believer in the importance of introducing music education early on, he has performed frequent programs for elementary and middle school students in Minneapolis and Oskaloosa; including work as an MPR Class Notes Artist. Rudy plays on a 2007 Maurizio Tadioli violin, of which he is the proud first owner.

Benjamin Davis, viola

Benjamin Davis is a Twin Cities based performer, teacher and administrator who has had the privilege of receiving instruction from Korey Konkol, Thomas Turner, Carol Rodland, Roland Vamos, Jonathan Sturm, Charles Miranda and Bruce McLellan.  In addition to a full studio of young violists and violinists, he is a member of the Quad City Symphony and substitute violist for Orchestra Iowa, Des Moines Symphony, South Dakota Symphony and principal substitute for the Mankato Symphony.  As an avid chamber and solo musician, Davis frequently performs works in musical styles ranging from Baroque, rock, Irish fiddle to today's avant-garde.  He regularly premieres new works for small ensemble and solo viola.  This love of new music stems from his passion for the creative process that was cultivated while studying new music with James Dillon and Noriko Kawai at the University Minnesota.  Most recently, this resulted in the premiere of 6 new works written for Lux String Quartet that were performed in concert and in masterclass with Brian Ferneyhough.  The Contemporary Music Workshop at "The U" allowed him the opportunity to work directly with the Arditti Quartet, Quatuor Diotima and JACK Quartet.

As an administrator, Davis is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Oskaloosa Chamber Music Festival (OCMF), hosted annually in Oskaloosa, Iowa.  OCMF is preparing for its sixth consecutive season.  From 2011-12, Davis organized chamber music events for Classical Revolution Twin Cities whose focus was to put chamber music in cafes, bars and other non-traditional, community focused spaces.  Currently, he serves as the President of the Minnesota Viola Society.  He proudly performs on a 16 3/8" award-winning viola modeled after da Salo and crafted by New York-based luthier Jason Viseltear.

Lars Krogstad Ortiz, cello

Lars Krogstad Ortiz was born and raised in the Twin Cities. He studied with Brenda Villard and then Tom Rosenberg at the University of Minnesota. As an active performer, he has had many solo and chamber masterclasses with notable musicians such as Janos Starker, Paul Katz of the Cleveland String Quartet, and violinist Gil Shaham. While at the "The U," he and three friends formed the Cantiamo String Quartet. Over five years, they collaborated with many living composers and premiered several works. He has performed in residence with the Alchemy Project, the SPARK Festival of Electronic Music and Arts, and the Electric Eyes Festival. After teaching for several years in Denver, Lars recently returned to his hometown where he teaches privately and plays with Lux String Quartet. He recently soloed with the Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis where he also serves as principal cellist.

Heath Mathews, Composer

Heath MathewsAs an active composer in the Minneapolis area for the past several years, Heath Mathews has been called a "gifted young composer" who "writes with a clarity of musical voice." The compositional interests of Dr. Mathews include a wide range of musical genres and styles. Playing in rock and jazz groups in his youth, the composer draws influence equally from the vernacular music of contemporary culture, western art music, and world music.

After completing his B.A. in music in 2000, Heath Mathews entered the graduate composition program at the University of Minnesota in 2001. Mathews has studied composition with Alex Lubet, Douglas Geers, Anthony Gatto, Bill Banfield, Christopher Hopkins (electro-acoustic music), Judith Zaimont (composition and orchestration) and Dominick Argento (orchestration). The composer completed a Ph.D. in music composition in 2007.

Heath Mathews has received commissions from ensembles, theatrical production companies and individual performers.  Dr. Mathews has also been the recipient of two Jerome Emerging Composer (JFund) awards, a Minnesota Artist Initiative Grant, multiple ASCAP awards, and various arts grants.

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