Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Fellowship Quartet Takes The Stage

Courtesy of David M. Bailey

The Fellowship Quartet is a group of Seattle University string performance students who are steadily making a name for themselves in the greater Seattle area.

The quartet earned some exciting new performance opportunities for this February. They will perform on Classical KING FM 98.1 on Feb. 14 at 8 p.m., then at Benaroya Hall on Feb. 23 at 3:30 p.m.

Founded in July 2013, the quartet consists of violinist Antonio Dowling, violist Chyna Mapel and cellists Cealice Kennison and Aaron Hauser. The quartet formed during the two-week Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival in Winthrop, Wash. last summer, which they attended under a grant from the Betti Foundation.

Courtesy of David M. Bailey
Courtesy of David M. Bailey

The festival’s artistic director, Dr. Kevin Krentz, is a professor of cello at Seattle U who first introduced the idea to the students. “I suggested that I bring in a group of young musicians from Seattle University to serve as a fellowship quartet,” Krentz said. “Once the students got there, they were immersed in a professional working festival.”

Together, the Fellowship Quartet practiced and performed Anton Arensky’s String Quartet No. 2
in A Minor. “We rehearsed six hours every day, and we saw each other 16 hours every day,” Hauser said.

They also received coaching sessions from talented professionals.

“We felt that we needed to capitalize on this opportunity because our arrangement is so unique,” Mapel said. “While we had great coaches at Methow and at SU, it was a really good opportunity.”

Standard quartet arrangements include two violins, one viola, and one cello; yet, the Fellowship Quartet includes two cellos rather than two violins.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to perform this piece in this arrangement,” Kennison said. Only two pieces have been written for a quartet with two cellos.

Dowling is adapting Haydn’s “Emperor Quartet” to fit the group’s arrangement. “We think it would be a valuable contribution to the body of chamber music work to arrange the Haydn string quartets and other standard works for our sonority,” Dowling said. “We as a group favor this extra bass notion.”

In the meantime, the group has continued performing. Last December, they won first place in the Russian Chamber Music Competition of Seattle.

“It was my favorite and most proud moment of the Fellowship Quartet,” Mapel said. “It was a moment of camaraderie with all the people I had worked with for such a long time. We were thrilled with the way we each played individually and as a team.”

Hauser described their performance as “this amazing, euphoric sound between all of us. All the other performances we’ve had, all the coaching, all the other experiences came up to this one moment. It was pretty extraordinary.”

The group, who also performed at the Frye Art Museum and at Wyckoff Auditorium in December, credits their educational experiences at Seattle U with giving them a strong foundation.

“We’ve gone to school together, we’ve gotten to know each other, we’ve gotten to know each other’s playing,” Hauser said. “We have a good bond, and we’re committed to playing chamber music at a high level.”

“We really listen to each other,” Kennison added. “We’ve known each other for a long time, not just in music but also outside of music. We’ve established friendship.”

“The reason we work as a group is because we’re very genuine to ourselves as people,” Dowling noted. “I don’t see my quartet members acting differently outside of rehearsal than they do inside rehearsal.”

The group hopes to compete in the Music Teachers National Association’s Chamber Competition at the regional level later this year.

“They have improved tremendously,” Krentz said. “Their experience in the trenches at Methow really sharpened their understanding of what has to get done to get to that next level.”

Later this month, the group will perform at Benaroya Hall and on Classical KING FM 98.1.

“They are unique opportunities for us,” Dowling said. “Not often do people get to perform on the radio and at Benaroya Hall, such a beautiful and large performance space. For the beginning of our careers, having these unique experiences established is great.”

Benaroya Hall is generally reserved for orchestras, internationally famous artists, and other large
performance groups.

“Only the best chamber musicians get to play on that stage,” Hauser said.

The group is eager to reach a wider audience through their performances this month.

“We’re going to be in people’s cars and in people’s homes and on people’s phones,” Dowling noted. “It’s so pervasive. It’s a really intense connection to people who hopefully want to listen to us.”

“These opportunities are like branches on our tree for the quartet,” Hauser added. “You never know what the next branch will lead to; it could blossom into other things.”

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