Award-Winning Marian Anderson String Quartet to Play at Occidental

The critically acclaimed Marian Anderson String Quartet will perform chamber works by American, Latin American, and European composers at Occidental College on Friday, March 2. The 7:30 p.m. concert is free and open to the public.


The College's 2012 G. William Hume Fellow in the Performing Arts, the Marian Anderson String Quartet is an all-female, African-American ensemble that has played at presidential inaugurations, New York City's venerable Alice Tully Hall, and the Library of Congress. Driven by its belief in the power of education, the ensemble has also performed at soup kitchens, churches, and prisons. In 2000, the group was awarded a grant from the Texaco Foundation to bring music to rural communities in the south and southwestern United States.

Critics have lauded the quartet-whose name honors contralto Marian Anderson, one of the 20th-century's greatest classical singers--for its "great tonal beauty," "big sound and bold theatricality," and "impassioned, powerful lyricism." In 1991, the quartet won the International Cleveland Quartet Competition, the first African-American ensemble to win a classical music competition.

The ensemble's four members-first violinist Marianne Henry, second violinist Nicole Cherry, violist Diedra Lawrence, and cellist Prudence McDaniel-are graduates of music conservatories such as Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music. Currently on the music faculty of Blinn College in Bryan, Texas, the ensemble has been quartet in residence at Cal State L.A., Texas A&M University, and the City College of New York. In addition, the Marian Anderson String Quartet has toured internationally, and its members have served on the faculty of universities across the country.

"The Marian Anderson String Quartet has an unparalleled gift for communication, both musical and personal," said Irene Girton, associate dean and head of the music department at the College. "Their performance will certainly be inspiring on many levels."

The ensemble's March 2 program, "Not the Same Ol' Song and Dance," promises more dynamism and technical brilliance. Included are works by African-American composers William Grant Still and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, which give a nod to Latin American dance and traditional Negro spirituals; a modern piece by Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla; and a string quartet by Felix Mendelssohn written when the 19th-century composer was just 18 years old.

The Marian Anderson String Quartet will perform in Herrick Chapel on the College campus, located at 1600 Campus Road, Los Angeles, 90041. For maps and directions, go here. Handicapped parking is available.

Shared by the theater and music departments, the G. William Hume Fellowship in the Performing Arts was made possible by a generous gift from the G. William Hume Trust. Bill Hume '50 M'52 taught music, speech, and history at Occidental before being named director of Thorne Hall in 1958. Previous Hume Fellows include violinist Hilary Hahn, singers Federica von Stade and Jennifer Larmore, the theater ensemble Culture Clash, and playwright/actor Roger Guenveur Smith '77.