Howard County

Today's classical music comes to Columbia

You can expect the music to sound fresh during the Leipzig String Quartet's concert on Saturday, March 2, at 8 p.m., in Howard Community College's Smith Theatre. Like the sponsoring Candlelight Concert Society, this chamber music quartet often likes to introduce audiences to contemporary classical music.

The only 19th-century piece on the upcoming program is Brahms' Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2. If that selection by a great German composer seems like a natural choice for a quartet hailing from Leipzig, the rest of the program features much more recently minted music from around the world.


Also on the concert bill are Jorg Widmann's Quartet No. 3, "Hunting Quartet"; Baltimore native Philip Glass' String Quartet No. 2, "Company"; and Tan Dun's "Eight Colors."

This diverse lineup typifies the programmatic taste of an ensemble that presumably never runs out of material from which to choose. After all, the Leipzig String Quartet knows 300 works by 100 composers. Many of those works can be heard on its 70 recordings.


Scrolling through its catalogue of composers, it's clear that Mozart, Schubert and other venerable classical composers are represented. It's also clear that this ensemble plays modern music a lot more often than most chamber groups. As members of the Leipzig-based, aptly named Ensemble Avantgarde, this ensemble isn't afraid to creatively push the envelope.

Where early-20th-century composers are concerned, the Leipzig String Quartet is capable of launching into pieces by the likes of Arnold Schonberg, Igor Stravinsky, Zoltan Kodaly and Paul Hindemith. Where composers active within more recent decades are concerned, they're all set to play works by Krzysztof Penderecki, Witold Lutoslawski, Gyorgy Ligeti and Steve Reich. They're even ready to rock to compositions by Elvis Costello.

Founded in 1988, this hip quartet consists of violinists Stefan Arzberger and Tilman Buning, violist Ivo Bauer and cellist Matthias Moosdorf. They studied with Gerhard Bosse, Amadeus Quartet, Walter Levin and Hatto Beyerle; and three of the members were first chairs in the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig. The group's early honors include winning the 1991 International ARD Munich competition, and the Busch and Siemens prizes.

As an international touring group, they have returned to some cities often enough to have performed in various venues there. New York visits have brought them to Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y and the Frick Collection. In the Washington area, venues have included the Library of Congress and Wolf Trap.

Leipzig String Quartet performs on Saturday, March 2, at 8 p.m., at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, in Columbia. HCC faculty member Bill Scanlan Murphy gives a pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $30; $28 for seniors; $12 for students; and free for those 17 and under when accompanied by a paying adult. Call 410-997-2324 or go to