Back Bay String Quartet, Copyright 2016 Rita Watson
Source: Back Bay String Quartet, Copyright 2016 Rita Watson

Music brings us to a reflective and peaceful dimension. During these turbulent times of concerns about climate change and election hacking, we need moments of serenity. In a concert with classical guitarist and composer Tye Austin and the Back Bay String Quartet, which he founded, we drifted into reverie. The sounds of classical guitar floated in harmony with the strings.

We seldom hear the classical guitar in concert with string quartets, chamber groups, or symphonic orchestras because of the lack of repetoire. As such, the afternoon event at the Boston Athenaeum, “The Bridge Between the Strings,” was distinctive.

Performing solo and with the string quartet, Tye Austin led us into a musical embrace. One could almost see the notes drifting through the Athenaeum, over the ivy boughs laced with white lights and onto the gallery of books and paintings.

Tye Austin, Copyright 2016 Rita Watson
Source: Tye Austin, Copyright 2016 Rita Watson

The program itself did not require Christmas carols to set the tone for this season of gratitude and merrymaking. Music selections ranged from Francisco Tarrega (1852 -1909) to Luis Bonfa (1922 -2001) and Tye Austin's "Suite of Meditations." 

When we make the time to absorb music we are giving ourselves a gift. As Kristin Neff, Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, tells us, “More so than self-esteem, the nurturing quality of self-compassion allows us to flourish, to appreciate the beauty and richness of life, even in hard times. When we soothe our agitated minds with self-compassion, we’re better able to notice what’s right as well as what’s wrong, so that we can orient ourselves toward that which gives us joy.” /Why Self-Compassion Trumps Self-Esteem

The Back Bay String Quartet

Tye Austin was the first place winner in the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition and was invited to makes his solo-debut at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England on December 14, 2016.  He graduated from the New England Conservatory with his Master of Music degree under the tutelage of legendary maestro Eliot Fisk (the last student of Andres Segovia). He plays a customized 2015 Steve Connor Guitar from Cape Cod, MA.

Members of the string quartet include:  Boston-based violinist Daniel Cho is a recent graduate of the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Joanna Kurkowicz, concertmaster of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Violist Leonid Plashinov-Johnson has performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral member in over fifteen countries and in venues. Cellist Peiyao Guo was a recipient of the award given by Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Foundation during his studies in London. The work of the Boston String Quarted and Tye Austin is on YouTube.

Musical Afternoons and Exhibits

Concerts such as this one at the Athenaeum are open and welcoming to the public (www.BostonAthenaeum.org).There are a small number of privately funded libraries in the United States. However, today there are many lectures, exhibits, and musical events that non-members can enjoy. /Music and the Boston Athenaeum.

The current exhibit "Daniel Chester French: The Female Form Revealed" will be on display through February 19, 2017. It is co-curated by Dr. David B. Dearinger, Director of Exhibitions & Susan Morse Hilles Senior Curator of Paintings & Sculpture at the Boston Athenæum, and Donna Hassler, Director of Chesterwood and Administrator, Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

This exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by Dr. Dearinger and a checklist of the exhibition’s contents, as well as an on-line version of the installation.

Copyright 2016 Rita Watson  (An academic member through Suffolk University, Department of English)

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