Ensemble co-founder reunites with Harlem Quartet for St. Vincent College concert
Nearly four years had passed since violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez performed with the Harlem Quartet, which he helped found in 2006.
Hernandez, now with the Fine Arts Quartet in Milwaukee, reunited with the ensemble Jan. 16 for the St. Vincent College Concert Series, replacing Jaime Amador, who was doing a concert in Puerto Rico.
Felix Umansky played the cello, and founding members Ilmar Gavilan and Melissa White played violin.
“That's familia right there,” Hernandez said, nodding at his friends. “I think for all of us, it's been an incredible pleasure — I didn't realize how much I missed them.”
The mission of the New York-based group is to advance diversity in classical music by attracting new audiences and introducing the work of minority composers. After their debut at Carnegie Hall, the quartet performed across North America and Europe and in South Africa. The song “Mozart Goes Dancing,” recorded with Chick Corea and Gary Burton, won a Grammy Award in 2013.
They've played at the White House for President Barack Obama, and at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Saturday's selections at the St. Vincent Basilica in Unity, near Latrobe, included Billy Strayhorn's “Take the ‘A' Train,” recorded by the Harlem Quartet in 2007; “String Quartet No. 4 in C minor,” by Ludwig van Beethoven and “El Cumbanchero,” by Rafael Hernandez.
After a standing ovation, the musicians joined the audience for a reception in the parish assembly room, where they mingled with monks, students and members of the community.
White thanked St. Vincent for its warm welcome.
“We're grateful that you had us here,” she said. “We'd love to come back.”
At 7 p.m. Feb. 13, Grammy-winning organist Paul Jacobs will perform at the Basilica.
Seen at the concert: St. Vincent president Brother Norman Hipps, music department chairman Father Cyprian Constantine, concert series director Ann Holmes, Lou and Barb Steiner, George and Ginnie Leiner, Al andCarol Kave, Mary Vanden Berk with her sister, Theresa, Kathleen Emmer, Doreen Blandino, Bernadette Domenic andSuzanne English.