Jorgensen Center Debuts Digital Stage with ‘Midsummer Music’ Series

UConn's Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts launches a live, digital concert series starting July 14, 2020.

The Dover Quartet, which will perform three live, online concerts for the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on July 14, July 21, and July 28

The Dover Quartet, which will perform three live, online concerts for the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on July 14, July 21, and July 28 (Photo courtesy of Roy Cox).

The Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts will debut the Jorgensen Digital Stage this week in a series of three live-streamed concerts called “Midsummer Music,” performed by the world-renowned Dover Quartet.

The one-hour performances will take place on consecutive Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m.: July 14, July 21, and July 28. Each curated concert will include a live Q&A with members of the quartet, which will be performing live from Vail, Colo. Audience members will be able to submit questions and make comments online, and the quartet will respond in real time. Tickets can be purchased on the Jorgensen’s website.

“After the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of our remaining spring events, I thought it was important if there was any way that Jorgensen could do programming that would keep us relevant and in the forefront of our patrons’ minds, that we should,” says Rodney Rock, executive director of Jorgensen. “We started exploring that. I got an email invitation to attend the premier of a new service called OurConcerts.Live that piqued my curiosity, because in theory that was exactly the kind of thing we were looking at maybe doing.”

Rock has collaborated on performances with OurConcerts.Live founder John Zion, who is managing director of MKI Artists, one of the leading classical music management agencies in the U.S., whose roster of artists includes the Dover Quartet. The Quartet has performed at Jorgensen several times since 2013, including a Beethoven cycle of six performances and events with students and Jorgensen patrons.

“We have a wonderful relationship with UConn and with Rod,” says Camden Shaw, cellist with the Dover Quartet. “Out of the 40 to 50 engagements that we had originally for this summer, he was one of maybe two or three that were able to restructure fast enough to get this to happen. Of course, our desire is to be helpful and be part of it. I really do credit Rod and his team for making it actually possible.”

The Dover Quartet has become one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world. The quartet’s rise from up-and-coming young ensemble to occupying a spot at the top of their field is described as “practically meteoric” by Strings Magazine. The ensemble serves as the quartet-in-residence for the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, Chamber Music Northwest, Artosphere, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, and Peoples’ Symphony in New York, and was recently named the first-ever quartet-in-residence for the Kennedy Center. The group has also been the subject of a recent documentary film, called “Strings Attached.”

On Tuesday, July 14, the Dover Quartet will perform Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C Minor, K. 546, followed by the Brahms String Quartet No. 3 in B-flat Major, Op. 67. The July 21 performance will feature Samuel Barber’s String Quartet in B minor, Op. 11 and Mozart’s String Quartet in C Major, K. 465, “Dissonance.” The final live-streamed Midsummer Music performance on July 28 will feature the Haydn String Quartet in D Minor, Op. 76, No.2 “Quinten” and Ravel’s String Quartet in F major.

Shaw says that, like most performers, he and his group – violinists Bryan Lee and Joel Link with violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt – all have been at home for the past several weeks and are looking forward to performing for an audience in a new forum.

“This will be our first broadcast concert, but we’re really excited about it,” he says. “I’m very excited to share music in this way and I think it’s showing flexibility in a very positive direction for the classical music world. I’m hopeful that as this model gets better and as the experience for the viewer gets better they feel closer to the performers. It’s great to see artists, rolling with the punches and maybe even discovering some new possibilities that without this we may have never gotten around to and really invent ourselves.”

Shaw says he was destined to be a cellist in a string quartet. Born into a family that included professional musicians, he wanted to play the trumpet like a favorite uncle. However, his parents and sister were already playing violin and viola and wanted to perform as a family string quartet.

“At first it was actually quite stressful. For instance, when I was a very young kid, I’m trying to play Beethoven, Opus 59. No. 1 after having played for just a few years, and my family was quite a lot more developed than me,” says Shaw, who went on to study with Peter Wiley at Curtis Institute of Music, where he earned his degree in 2010.

Shaw continued to study with prominent musicians, eventually attending the International Musicians’ Seminar in Cornwall in the United Kingdom to study with the renowned British cellist Steven Isserlis. Despite his early challenge with Beethoven’s work, Shaw now considers the composer his favorite.

“He pushed the envelope emotionally to new levels,” he says of the composer.

Shaw grew up listening to the music of Simon & Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell, but says one of his favorite contemporary groups is the indie rock band Dirty Projectors, based in Brooklyn, New York.

“I think they’re absolutely brilliant,” he says. “None of my friends like them; they’re very difficult to listen to, but I’m still waiting to convince people that they’re amazing. I think they’re really phenomenal.”

For livestreaming and ticket information, visit the Jorgensen’s website. Ticket purchase includes one unique link for viewing the performance(s) (viewing limited to one device at a time). The livestream will begin 30 minutes prior to each concert.

The Lenard Chamber Music Series and Midsummer Music are made possible through the generosity of Jean and John Lenard. Through the Lenard Endowment, UConn students, non-UConn students, and Connecticut youth (K-12) can attend all chamber music events free, including the Midsummer Music concerts. Any students or youth who wish to view the concerts need to email to request access to the livestream(s).