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The Brandeis Lydian String Quartet performs a lunchtime concert at Mandel Center

The Brandeis Lydian String Quartet performed at the Mandel Center this past Wednesday as a part of the Brandeis Concert Series. Faculty, students and the larger Waltham community filled the Mandel atrium for an afternoon of music and refreshments. While the group normally has four musicians, one of their violinists, Judith Eissenberg, was unable to perform due to an injury. The remaining trio—Mark Berger on viola, Andrea Segar on violin and Joshua Gordon on cello—played two pieces. During the winter, the Quartet hosts an annual recital at Slosberg Music Hall. Their lunchtime Mandel concert served as an introduction to the wider campus community and a sneak peek into their future musical endeavors. 

According to the Lydian Quartet website, the Quartet has performed in famous venues across the U.S. such as the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress. They have also performed abroad in a number of countries including Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Armenia and most recently Taiwan. 

The first piece that the group performed was “Intermezzo for String Trio” by Zoltan Kodaly, a Hungarian composer of the early 1900s. Gordon described the historical background of the piece; Kodaly was one of the first scholars to practice musicology, not more than a budding field at the time. After his scholarship in music, he studied melodies from local artists and intertwined them with his own music. In this sense, the piece is reflective of the setting from which he came from. Additionally, the musical expression mimics that of a piece that would traditionally be played in between acts of a theatrical play. 

The second piece that was performed was “Divertimento” in E-flat major (K.563) by Mozart. As introduced by Berger, Divertimento was a piece that was designed to be played at parties and other social events during the mid to late 1700s. In other words, the music was purely for fun. Berger notes that while the piece’s intention is to be played in a light-hearted social setting, the music itself is significantly longer and more technically difficult than many other Mozart trio pieces. The piece consisted of different sections: Allegro, Adagio, Andante and Minuet. These names represent different passages of pacing in order to contribute to the overall narrative of the piece.

All three members of the quartet balance rehearsals with teaching courses at Brandeis University. As described in the Lydian String Quartet website, Segar joined the Lydian String Quartet as a first violinist and an Associate Professor of the Practice in 2016. Her areas of expertise include chamber music, performance and analysis. Berger joined the Quartet as a violist in 2014 and an Associate Professor of the Practice. His areas of expertise include chamber music, music theory and composition. Furthermore, Gordon joined the Lydian String Quartet as a cellist and the music faculty of Brandeis University in 2002. Gordon is the undergraduate advisor for the Music Department and specializes in ensemble dynamics, performance psychology and educational outreach. Eissenberg was the founding member of the Lydian String Quartet and has become a Professor of the Practice at Brandeis University since the beginning of her career here in 1980.

The group normally rehearses for two- to three-hour stretches during several weekday mornings. Berger describes the piece selection process as fairly “democratic.” The musicians rotate which genres and composers they want to explore. For more information about the Lydian Quartet and their upcoming performances, refer to their group website as well as the Brandeis Concert Series calendar.

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