By Mike Giuliano
7:10 AM EDT, October 4, 2013
Candlelight Concert Society has been presenting classical music concerts in Howard County for so many years that one could say it's tending an eternal flame. It's not fixated on the past, though, because its 41st season opens with a forward-looking concert by the Dover String Quartet at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 8 p.m.
By way of youthful credentials, just consider that the members of the Dover String Quartet were only 19 years old when they formed their group at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 2008.
And definitely qualifying as young is one of the compositions on the upcoming program. It's the world premiere of a Dover-commissioned piece, Eric Sessler's "String Quartet." Himself born in 1969, Sessler worked with these musicians when they were students at Curtis.
Judging from Sessler's program notes for his composition, it sounds like an ambitious piece. The composer notes in his written remarks that "as the music progresses, new and old melodies are combined and juxtaposed, at times in a way similar to cinematic jump cuts."
By its concluding section, Sessler writes that his composition "has a type of perpetual motion fever with constant interruptions ... The music goes even faster and the wild train ride is driven home by the quartet at a frenetically joyous pace."
If you would like to hear more about this composition before hearing it, Sessler gives a pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m.
The other two pieces on the upcoming program attest to the Dover String Quartet's music history-spanning capability. Representing a rich 18th-century tradition will be Franz Joseph Haydn's String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 76, No. 4 "Sunrise"; and Dimitri Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 3 in F Major, Op. 73, which was composed in 1946, has an intensity that surely speaks to the World War II-era conditions experienced by that Russian composer.
The Dover String Quartet is comprised of violinists Joel Link and Bryan Lee, violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, and cellist Camden Shaw. Having studied with Arnold Steinhardt, Joseph Silverstein, Peter Wiley and Shmuel Ashkenasi, they went on to form a quartet that originally was known as the Old City String Quartet.
For a group so young, the Dover already has been accumulating the credentials that bode well for the future. The Grand Prize winner of the 2011 Fischoff Competition, the group also won the Grand Prize and three other prizes at the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition.
Where the recording studio is concerned, they've done recordings of the Mendelssohn and Debussy quartets.
Institutional affiliations also mean a lot to chamber musicians. Until last spring, Dover was quartet-in-residence at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music; and it's currently the first quartet-in-residence at Curtis, as well as the Ernst Stiefel quartet-in-residence at the Caramoor Festival during the 2013- 2014 season.
The group has done concerts for presenting organizations including the Washington Performing Arts Society, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and Houston Friends of Chamber Music.
By way of festivals, it has performed at fests including Chamber Music Northwest, La Jolla SummerFest, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, and Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival.
Additional frequent flier miles were accumulated during a European tour with violist Roberto Diaz last spring.
Dover String Quartet performs Saturday, Oct. 5, at 8 p.m., at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. Composer Eric Sessler gives a pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $32, $30 for seniors, $12 for students ages 18- 24, and free for ages 9- 17 when accompanied by an adult. Call 410-997-2324 or go to http://www.candlelightconcerts.org.