A happening in Slee Hall
UB boasts a world-renowned classical music performance
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 24, 2013 19:02
Frederick Caldecott Slee’s legacy at UB is more than just a name on a building. Slee Hall hosts many performances throughout the year, but it is during the Beethoven String Quartet Cycle that Slee’s presence is most tangible.
The Jupiter String Quartet came to UB’s Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall last weekend to perform a series of Beethoven’s string quartets.
The Slee/Beethoven String Quartet Cycle is one of the longest running concert traditions not just in Buffalo, but the world. Established in 1954, the annual concert series is funded by the $755,324 estate that Slee left UB after his widow died.
Slee was more than a supporter of the music department; he was also one of its participants. While he pursueda law degree at Harvard University, Slee was actively engaged in a variety of musical aspirations.
Upon returning to Buffalo, Slee remained active as a violist. Eventually he left a hefty sum to the university, ensuring there would always be a place in Buffalo to hear Beethoven’s quartets performed live.
Now, thanks to Slee’s patronage, UB is the only place in the world that annually puts on Beethoven’s quartets in their entirety.
Slews of concertgoers come to these events. The series has developed a very loyal fan-base from around the country, and it is a highlight of Buffalo’s cultural scene.
“Some people even bring their own sheet music to follow along,’” said UB Department of Music Concert Manager Philip Rehard. “The experience of the music is unexplainable, and that is why Slee wanted it to happen.”
This year, the university welcomed the renowned Jupiter String Quartet, which formed in 2001. Members include Nelson Lee and Megan Freivogel on violin, Liz Freivogel on viola and Daniel McDonough on the cello. The group is relatively young, but they have made quite an impression on audiences.
The Jupiter String Quartet has had the honor of performing in some of the most prestigious concert halls around the world, such as Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City and London’s WigmoreHall.
The quartet played its instruments effortlessly, leaving audience members in awe of the quartet’s mastery of Beethoven.
“I thought the show was really well played,’ said Lindsay Buzak, 25 of Buffalo. “I am not really a big fan of classical music, but hearing and seeing them play the music, you couldn't deny how great the music was.”
The players were able to communicate their passion for the music through their performance. Watching their facial expressions, it was clear that they were very moved by the music.
“It’s hard to critique a show like this,” Buzak said. “It must be like going up to a Picasso and saying I didn'’t like it because I thought he used too much red. Instead you kind of have to realize you are listening to a masterpiece, and all you can do is sit back and enjoy it.”
The Jupiter String Quartet played Concert 5 of the Slee/Beethoven series, which includes Beethoven’s Quartet in A Major, Op. 18, No. 5 and Quartet in B-Flat Major, Op. 130. It seemed as though the instruments were in dialogue with one another; one violin would play a solo and then another player would respond back with its own, creating a sense of conversation.
During the finale of Quartet in B-Flat Major, the quartet was able to build up a sense of suspense in the piece; the intensity of the music built up to an ending that was well worth the wait. The audience gave a standing ovation.
“I thought the show was fantastic,” said Cynthia Hunter, a cognitive psychology graduate student. “I think the fact that we have access to something like this in Buffalo is amazing. We were really lucky to get to see something like this.”
The Bergonzi String Quartet will visit UB on April 4 to perform the fifth installment in the Beethoven series at Slee Hall.