The Artisan Quartet played its first concert in the late 1980′s. Originally known as the Austin String Quartet, members Richard Kilmer and Bruce Williams ultimately named the group the Camilli Quartet after the maker of Richard’s boyhood violin. The fledgling ensemble began a four-year intensive tour through the string quartet repertoire, performing everything from Haydn and Beethoven to Bartok and Lutoslawski.
The Quartet rehearsed three to five times a week during those years, and along with flutist Megan Meisenbach the quartet presented its own summer concert series through the early and mid-nineties called “Classical Splash” held in the Chapel at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church. Those concerts presented Austin audiences with high caliber chamber music performances and especially the great string quartet repertoire.
The Camilli Quartet era ended when two of the quartet members accepted professional positions overseas. By then, the group had:
- Gained the recognition of The Texas Commission for the Arts with an appointment to its Touring Roster;
- Been in residency several seasons with the San Antonio Youth Orchestra’s Summer Camp at the University of Texas San Antonio;
- Started negotiations about at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) about a quartet residency;
- Retained professional management; and
- Carefully prepared and performed around forty of the greatest string quartets in existent repertoire.
After half the Camilli Quartet resigned, Richard and Bruce continued to perform quartets together much less formally for several years. They changed the name of the freelance quartet back to the Austin String Quartet and were content to appear on local chamber music series as guest artists using a variety of local musicians over those years to fill out the group.
They both kept the dream alive of playing high quality quartets together that whole time, and with the arrival on the scene of cellist Douglas Harvey and his world class ability, the third piece of the puzzle was in place.
The Quartet continued to perform with violinist Elise Winters during the last ten years but on a somewhat sporadic basis due to each member’s very busy schedule. During this time, the Quartet had mini-seasons once or twice a year, clumping their performances around dates in Austin, out of town and out of state. In preparation for these concerts the Quartet rehearsed with the intensity of a touring string quartet.
The Artisan Quartet in its present configuration was born in 2009 with the addition of violinist Paula E. Bird. Her impressive violin playing and long list of accomplishments and abilities brings a vigor and direction to the group that has many thinking the sky’s the limit.
The Artisan Quartet is poised to make history because it is dedicated to presenting only the greatest works of the string quartet literature and preparing performances with the unhurried attention to detail that truly defines string quartet playing. Audiences will know that to attend an Artisan Quartet concert will be an opportunity to share in this excellence.
In its brief history, The Artisan Quartet has already performed many concerts around central Texas including The Twilight Series (Jonestown/Lago Vista), the Santa Cecilia Series (Austin), Texas State University (San Marcos), and the Salon Concert Series (San Antonio). The Artisan will offer future performances at the Victoria Bach Festival, the Incarnate Word University in San Antonio, the Blanco Performing Arts Association Series, and in Austin with the Artisan’s own “Genius at Play” Series, featuring the complete string quartets of Beethoven.
MidAmerica Productions, Inc. has invited the Artisan Quartet to make its Carnegie Hall debut performing on the Carnegie Hall Weil Recital Hall Chamber Music Series March 22, 2012. The Artisan received a very generous gift from their Patron to help fund the trip to New York.
The group also recently recorded part of the film score soundtrack for the documentary about Barbara Conrad Smith, the legendary Metropolitan Opera singer.
The Artisan String Quartet will perform at 7:30 pm on Saturday, October 8, 2011 in the Uptown Blanco Ballroom. 317 Main St, Blanco, Texas.
Click here for ticket info.