Graduate student string quartet to perform at Centennial Concert

Noah Brooks

When the Cordova Quartet was asked to play at the Butler School of Music’s 100th Anniversary concert, they knew that it would be the perfect opportunity for their first performance in Austin. 

The Cordova Quartet, composed of violinist Andy Liang, violinist Niccoló Muti, violist Blake Turner and cellist Matthew Kufchak, all graduate students at the Butler School, will perform Friday at the “Centennial Concert: A Taste of Texas,” a concert featuring several ensembles from the Butler School of Music to mark the school’s 100 years of operation. 

While obtaining graduate degrees at Rice University, the four played together for a couple of years before deciding to officially form the Cordova Quartet in fall 2013.

“[Rice] is where we all met, where we became friends and really formed a passion for playing chamber music together,” Turner said. “Really, just last fall … we decided that this is something that we’d like to pursue professionally.”

After auditions with three different programs, the quartet decided to attend the Butler School of Music for the opportunity to study under the Miró Quartet, the quartet-in-residence at the school.    

“They are one of the top string quartets in the world, so the opportunity to study with them was a big draw to come here,” Turner said. “Also, the Butler School of Music is a program that is really on the rise, so that was one of the several factors that influenced our decision.”

Liang, Muti and Kufchak are working on artist diplomas, or post-masters degrees focused on performance, while Turner is obtaining his masters in viola performance. The four are the graduate quartet-in-residence at the school, performing regularly in competitions and concerts for the school while studying under the Miró Quartet. The quartet was invited to perform at the Centennial Concert shortly after arriving at UT.

“This is going to be our first public performance in Austin, so it’s exciting to introduce ourselves to the people here,” Kufchak said. “We’re really proud that they asked us to represent what the school is doing here.”

The Cordova Quartet is one of the many groups that will be performing, with ensembles ranging from the Jazz Orchestra to the UT choirs. In addition to their main performance, the quartet will also be a part of some of the other ensembles, such as opera and chorus performances.

“The whole concert is a smattering of all of these different pieces,” Turner said. “We’ll also be playing in the orchestra as well.”

The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Bates Recital Hall, with a pre-concert reception starting at 6 p.m. The hour-long performance will feature one piece from each ensemble.

“It’s the best of the Butler School,” Kufchak said. “They’re really just trying to showcase what the school is doing and what they’ve accomplished in the last 100 years.”

The quartet hopes that the concert will allow students and faculty to recognize the music school’s level of skill and importance on the campus.

“I’m not sure that the UT community realizes what a hidden gem it is,” Turner said. “I feel like that what the audience can look forward to is seeing the high level of musicianship that’s here on the UT campus.”