Summer 2019 Artists

Carpe Diem String Quartet

Carpe Diem String Quartet

“The Carpe Diem players turned in a fiery and flexible performance that was astonishingly free given the unfamiliar tuning system. Here were four musicians who had thrown their hard-won concepts of Western intonation overboard in order to learn a new language to the point beyond fluency, where they communicated with eloquence and zest.” —The New York Times, July 20, 2018

Gold Medal Winner of the Global Music Award

One of the most unique and sought-after chamber ensembles on the concert stage today, the Carpe Diem String Quartet (Charles Wetherbee, Marisa Ishikawa, Korine Fujiwara & Gregory Sauer) is a boundary-breaking ensemble that has earned widespread critical acclaim. Carpe Diem defies easy classification with programming that includes classical, Gypsy, tango, folk, pop, rock, and jazz-inspired music. The quartet appears on traditional concert series (Carnegie Hall, New York NY; Jordan Hall, Boston MA; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Chautauqua Institute, Chautauqua NY; Asolo Theater, Sarasota FL, Accademia Chigiana,Siena Italy, Suntory Hall, Tokyo Japan) as well as unconventional venues (Poisson Rouge, NYC; Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Half-Moon Bay, CA; The Redlands Bowl, Redlands, CA; The Mug & Brush, Columbus, OH). Carpe Diem has been awarded five transformative grants from the PNC Foundation for their community outreach in Central Ohio.

“The Carpe Diem players turned in a fiery and flexible performance that was astonishingly free…” (The New York Times)

 “With enthrallingly flawless execution and miraculous synchronicity, the Carpe Diem String Quartet wowed their New York audience on Saturday night at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall… With a flair for the romantic and technical expertise to spare, the ensemble is a perfectly structured, dexterously concentrated success...This ensemble must be held in only the highest and most reverent esteem…” (New York Theatre Guide)

 “…Until Saturday evening, I had never heard a performance by one of these multilingual quartets where the classical repertoire was delivered at a level that was competitive with the finest traditional groups. But the Carpe Diem Quartet, appearing at the Dumbarton Church, was extraordinary. Among these contemporary quartets who speak in different tongues, the Carpe Diem is the best one out there.” (The Washington Post, Washington, DC)

 “One would have to search long and hard to find a more charming and enjoyable chamber music concert . . . A number of elements contributed to this end result, not the least of which the superb musicianship of the four musicians - Carpe Diem is a seriously talented quartet in the most traditional definition.” (Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, FL)

Carpe Diem’s CD “Montana,” by composer (and quartet member) Korine Fujiwara, received this rave review in Strings Magazine: Carpe Diem “must be one of the most adventurous groups of its kind.”  Carpe Diem has recorded the complete cycle of the nine string quartets of Sergei Taneyev for Naxos, as well as the complete string quartets of Jonathan Leshnoff, Reza Vali’s The Book of Calligraphy,two CDs with singer/guitarist Willy Porter, Anansi and the Sky Godwith John Gunther, saxophone, the complete string quartets of Richard Jordan Smoot, Quintets No. 1 and 2 for Mandolin and String Quartetby mandolinist Jeff Midkiff, and Bruce Wolosoff’s Songs without Words. Recently the CD of Jeff Midkiff’s music was awarded Gold Prize at the Global Music Awards.

Carpe Diem seeks out, and is sought after by, artists from many different genres for collaborations, including : American singer/songwriter/ guitarist Willy Porter, Latin Grammy winner/bandoneón player Raul Juarena, klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer, cellist Yo Yo Ma, banjo virtuoso Jayme Stone, Shannon Heaton, Celtic flautist, mandolinist Jeff Midkiff, Dixieland trumpeter Tom Battenberg, classical guitarist Nicolo Spera, Chinese pipa player Yihan Chen, Jazz Quartet the Whirly Birds, and world master of the Persian santoor Dariush Saghafi. 

The quartet is dedicated to community engagement, and to pushing the limits of the classical string quartet and to changing the concert experience of chamber music. Using innovative programming, thematic concerts, popular music for younger generations, cameras and video to assist in the visual presentation, as well as speaking from the stage to better engage the audience, Carpe Diem is bringing new audiences into the concert hall and revitalizing the chamber music experience.

CDSQ is represented by: Great Lakes Performing Artist Associates

Carpe Diem String Quartet

Carpe Diem String Quartet

Summer 2019 Artists

Charles Wetherbee , violin

Charles Wetherbee, violin

Violinist Charles Wetherbee has performed throughout the world, including Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. He has appeared at the Aspen Music Festival, the Garth Newell Center, the Hidden Valley Festival (CA), the Roycroft Chamber Festival (NY), the Nouvelle Academie International d’Été (Nice, France), the Olympic Music Festival (WA), the MidAmerica Music Festival (OH), and Strings in the Mountains (CO).

He has performed in the French, German, Austrian, and Dutch embassies, the Terrace Theater of the Kennedy Center, the National Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery, the Freer Gallery, Strathmore Hall, Jordan Hall and many other important venues.

A native of Buffalo, New York, Charles gave his first performances at age six. He made his debut with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under Symon Bychkov, and since then has performed with the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovitch, as well as the Japan Philharmonic, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Bogota (Columbia), the National Repertory Orchestra, the Orchestra Nacional de Mexico, the Symphony Orchestra of the Curtis Institute, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Virginia Symphony, among others.

A devoted chamber musician, Charles is the first violinist of the Carpe Diem String Quartet, with whom he tours and performs regularly. He is also the Artistic Director of the Dercum Center for Arts and Humanities, Keystone, Colorado. Charles is an assistant professor of violin at the College of Music—University of Colorado at Boulder.

Summer 2019 Artists

Marisa Ishikawa , violin

Marisa Ishikawa, violin

Marisa Ishikawa is currently a Teaching Assistant at the University of Colorado Boulder. Marisa was born in Boulder, Colorado and began playing the violin at the age of three. Between 2011 and 2015, Marisa earned at CU Boulder a Bachelor of Music with Highest Honors. Additionally, she received a Bachelor of Science: Accounting with High Distinction from CU Leeds School of Business. During this time, Marisa won various awards, including the Don and Maria Johnson Music Scholarship and the PricewaterhouseCoopers Accounting Scholarship. From 2015 to 2017, Marisa studied with Brian Lewis at the University of Texas Austin, where she received the Starling Distinguished Violinist Scholarship and earned a Master in Music degree.  

Throughout her education, Marisa has worked with numerous artists, such as Alexander Kerr, Rachel Barton Pine, Glenn Dicterow, Naoko Tanaka, Ani Kavafian, Peter Otto, and Stephen Rose. As a chamber musician, Marisa has studied with the Takács String Quartet and the Miró String Quartet. Marisa has soloed with the Greater Boulder Youth Orchestra, the Austin Civic Orchestra, and the National Repertory Orchestra, and has participated in the Aspen Music Festival and the National Repertory Orchestra. In August 2018, Marisa performed at the International Double Reed Society in Granada, Spain.

In January 2019 she joined the Carpe Diem String Quartet, and has since performed with the quartet in Carnegie Hall, Kerrytown Concert Hall in Ann Arbor, and the Columbus Museum of Art. 

Marisa is also co-founder of the classical chamber music festival Austin Camerata, whose mission is to enrich the city of Austin by encouraging interest in classical chamber music amongst a variety of audiences. Its vision is to collaborate with other media such as dance, storytelling, and visual art, in order to connect with new audiences and to create a platform for artistic innovation.

Summer 2019 Artists

Korine Fujiwara , viola

Korine Fujiwara, viola

Korine Fujiwara is a founding member of Carpe Diem String Quartet. Critics have described her performances as “engaging” and “with finesse and perfection.” Festivals include: Olympic Music Festival, Marble Cliff Chamber Players, Snake River Chamber Players, MidAmerica Chamber Music Festival, Victoria International Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Focus! Festival of 20th Century Music at Lincoln Center, and Summergarden Festival at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Orchestras include: Brooklyn Philharmonic, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, and the Columbus Symphony, where she held the position of acting assistant principal second violin.

Named as one of Strings Magazine's “25 Contemporary Composers to Watch,” critics say of her music, “The ear is forever tickled by beautifully judged music that manages to be sophisticated and accessible at the same time,” “Contains a very rare attribute in contemporary classical music: happiness.” —Fanfare “She knows how to exploit all the resources of string instruments alone and together; her quartet writing is very democratic, with solos for everyone; her solo violin writing is fiendishly difficult.” —Strings

A violinist and violist, Fujiwara holds degrees from Juilliard and Northwestern University, studied with Joseph Fuchs, Myron Kartman, Harvey Shapiro, Robert Mann, and Joel Krosnik, was a longtime faculty member of Ohio Wesleyan University, and is in great demand for master classes and clinics.

Korine performs on a 1790 Contreras violin, a 2004 viola by Kurt Widenhouse, and bows by three of today’s finest makers, Paul Martin Siefried, Ole Kanestrom and Charles Espey, all of Port Townsend, WA, USA.

Summer 2019 Artists

Gregory Sauer , cello

Gregory Sauer, cello

Praised for his versatility, Gregory Sauer performs in many different musical arenas. He has appeared in recital at the Old First Concert Series in San Francisco, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, the Brightmusic Concert Series in Oklahoma City, at universities and schools of music such as the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt, the Shepherd School at Rice University, the University of Iowa and the University of Tennessee, among many others. Mr. Sauer was a prizewinner in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Ima Hogg National competitions and has performed concertos with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony, the New American Chamber Orchestra, the Quad City Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Columbus (GA) Symphony, the Tallahassee Symphony, and the Missoula Symphony, among others. 

Greg joined the Carpe Diem String Quartet in 2019, diving right in with a Weill Hall recital. Along with his brother, Thomas Sauer, he serves as co-Artistic Director of Chamber Music Quad Cities in their hometown of Davenport, Iowa.

Other chamber music ventures have resulted in appearances at the Austin Chamber Music Center, the Snake River Music Festival, the Victoria Bach Festival, the Texas Music Festival, the Colorado Music Festival, and the Garth Newel Music Center. As a member of the Fidelio Quartet, a prizewinning group in the London International String Quartet Competition, he performed concerts in the UK, Germany, Italy, and the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals. 

In 2006, Greg was appointed to the music faculty at Florida State University. Prior to that he taught eleven years at the University of Oklahoma, where he was named Presidential Professor.  Other teaching/performing positions have been a visiting professorship at the University of California at Los Angeles, summer programs such as the Texas Music Festival, the Duxbury Music Festival, the Foulger International Music Festival, the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Red Lodge Music Festival, and the Hot Springs Music Festival.          

Sauer has recorded for MSR Classics, Harmonia Mundi, Albany, and Mark Records.  

Gregory Sauer attended the Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory.  His teachers included Ada Marie Snyder, Charles Wendt, Paul Katz, Laurence Lesser, Bonnie Hampton, and Colin Carr.

Summer 2019 Artists

Jeff Midkiff, mandolin

Jeff Midkiff, mandolin

A mandolinist and fiddler raised on bluegrass and a professional clarinetist, Jeff Midkiff is an outstanding musician who feels comfortable in more than one setting—musically and personally. “I feel at home in the Blue Ridge Mountains playing fiddle tunes,” Jeff Midkiff says, “but then again, I feel at home in a professional orchestra as well.”

Jeff grew up where bluegrass and traditional string band music thrived. Given his first mandolin at the age of 7 by a neighbor (Sherman Poff, to whose memory Partners In Time is dedicated), he moved quickly into the world of fiddlers’ conventions and contests, winning his first mandolin competition before reaching his teens.

As he grew older, he added the fiddle to his instrumental arsenal and joined the New Grass Revue—yet at the same time, he took up the clarinet and began to perform with his high school’s symphonic band.

By the time he graduated he had his sights firmly set on a musical career, and in 1981 Midkiff began studies at Virginia Tech, eventually earning a degree in music education and performance. Yet even as he was immersing himself in the classical repertoire, he continued to gain attention as a mandolin and fiddle player with the McPeak Brothers, a widely respected bluegrass group with whom he made his first serious recording in 1982 (five selections from that album are included on Rebel Records’ McPeak Brothers: Classic Bluegrass CD).

In 1983 he joined the Lonesome River Band, which would eventually become one of bluegrass’s most acclaimed groups. For the next five years, as he completed his education and started working as a music instructor, he performed with the LRB, recording two albums with the group, including its self-titled Rebel Records debut in 1987. Shortly after that, he enrolled in graduate school at Northern Illinois University, earning his Master’s degree in clarinet at the end of the decade—but though the move meant leaving the LRB, he continued to perform with an Illinois bluegrass band, Bluegrass Express.

During the early part of the 1990s, Jeff lived in Florida and performed clarinet with the Naples Philharmonic and later moved to northern Virginia area to be an orchestra director in the Fairfax County schools. “I went a good five years without opening my mandolin case,” he notes, “and as a full-time teacher in northern Virginia, I wasn’t playing much clarinet, either.” An appearance with the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall reawakened his passion for the latter, and in 1995 he moved to the Chicago area to revive his performance career — on the clarinet only, he thought, but ultimately on the mandolin and fiddle, too. Busy as a clarinetist with area ensembles and as a youth orchestra conductor and educator, he was drafted in 1998 by The Schankman Twins, a California-based bluegrass duo now signed to Rounder Records.

He was writing a lot, too. “All of the sudden I was getting these ideas for tunes, and as soon as I started getting creative, I thought, I need to start recording.” He has appeared (several times) with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra on mandolin, and likewise in the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s clarinet section since 1980. In 2006, Jeff moved back to his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia. Jeff is an orchestra director in the Roanoke City Schools.

Jeff Midkiff’s concerto for mandolin and orchestra, “From the Blue Ridge,” was composed in 2011 in a commission from Music Director David Stewart Wiley and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. The first performance was opening night of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra's Fall 2011 season, and the Concerto has subsequently been performed with the Rochester Philharmonic, Champaign-Urbana Symphony, Shreveport Symphony, Williamsburg Symphonia, Symphony of Southeast Texas, Northwest Florida Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Ohio Northern Symphony, Knoxville Symphony, South Arkansas Symphony, Cal Poly Symphony and the Yale Concert Band.

—Jon Weisberger