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UNG Chamber Music Festival returns in June

Vega String Quartet
The Vega String Quartet

World-class musicians will bring their talents to the University of North Georgia in June for the second North Georgia Chamber Music Festival, with performances scheduled in Cumming, Dahlonega and Gainesville.

The festival features two Saturday night concerts and two Sunday afternoon concerts. The first two of the four concerts, set for June 15 and 16, will be held in the Hoag Auditorium on UNG's Dahlonega campus. The third concert will be held June 22 in the Ed Cabell Theatre on the university's Gainesville campus; the June 23 concert will be held in the Cumming First United Methodist Church.

Cecylia Arzewski, violinist and former concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, had a vision to begin a chamber music festival in northeast Georgia and is the event's artistic director.

"My first acquaintance with the magic spells of chamber music came when I was a student at Juilliard in 1962. There is nothing quite like the exhilaration of being swept along by the powerful currents of the most intimate form of music making," she said. "The solitude in chamber music shapes its visions over the hall. Everyone is alone, yet together at the same time. Listeners are pulled into the quiet, sometimes painful, sometimes blissful space created within us."

The festival begins with a performance by The Vega String Quartet and renowned pianist William Ransom. The quartet will perform Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet "Serioso" in F minor, op. 95, and Juan Ramirez's "Suite Latina for String Quartet." Ransom will join the quartet to perform Robert Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat major, op. 44.

  • The Vega String Quartet has been the quartet in residence at Emory University since 2006. The group features Domenic Salerni and Jessica Shuang Wu on violins, Yinzi Kong on viola and Guang Wang on cello. Considered on the cutting edge of chamber music ensembles, the group has been praised by the L.A. Times and the New York Times and has performed in venues like the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
  • Ransom has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Richard Stoltzman, William Preucil, Robert McDuffie, Stephen Isserlis and others. As a master teacher, he has also performed and given master classes at numerous schools of music and universities around the world. He is the Mary Emerson Professor of Piano at Emory University, where he is director of piano studies.

The June 16 concert features five members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) — violinists David Coucheron and Justin Bruns, cellists Daniel Laufer and Charae Krueger, and Yang-Yoon Kim on viola.

Coucheron, who plays a 1725 Stradivarius, and Laufer will perform Zoltan Kodaly's Duo for Violin and Cello; all five musicians will perform Franz Schubert's Cello Quintet in C major, D. 956.

  • Originally from Oslo, Norway, Coucheron began playing violin at age 3. He joined the ASO as concertmaster in September 2010 and is a member of the Georgian Chamber Players. He has performed with orchestras around the world; his solo recitals include the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall.
  • Bruns, assistant concertmaster with the ASO, began playing violin at age 3. He has appeared with numerous orchestras around the world and performs as a chamber musician throughout the United States and England. This season, he will perform with the Atlanta Chamber Players.
  • Laufer, associate principal cello with the ASO, started playing the cello at age 11 and has given recitals across the United States and participated in festivals around the world. As a chamber musician, Laufer has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Sadao Harada and others.
  • Krueger is principal cellist for the Atlanta Opera and Atlanta Ballet orchestras and frequently plays with the ASO. She is the cello professor at Kennesaw State University. She also has played in a jazz string quartet and several alternative rock bands and has appeared on albums by Bruce Springsteen, Faith Hill and Natalie Cole.
  • Kim, who has played viola with the ASO since 2009, was born in Seoul, South Korea. She has won many international competitions since making her debut at age 13. She has performed all over the world and is pursuing a doctoral degree in music performance.

On June 22, Kruger and Ransom will be joined by violinist Helen Kim for a performance at the Ed Cabell Theatre on UNG's Gainesville campus. The trio will perform Antonin Dvorak's Piano Trio "Dumky" in E minor, op. 90, and Mendelsshon's Piano Trio no. 1 in D minor, op. 49.

  • Helen Kim made her orchestral debut with the Calgary Philharmonic at age 6, and has appeared as a soloist with the Boston Pops, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Kim served as assistant and associate concertmaster for the ASO for three seasons and currently is the assistant concertmaster of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra and associate professor of violin at Kennesaw State University.

The festival wraps up on June 23 at the Cumming First United Methodist Church with a duo recital from Coucheron and his sister, pianist Julie Coucheron. The pair will perform Christian Sinding's Suite in A minor, op. 10; Edvard Grieg's Sonata no. 2 in G major, op. 13; Beethoven's Violin Sonata in C minor, op. 30, no. 2; and Franz Waxman's "Carmen Fantasy."

  • Originally from Oslo, Norway, Julie Coucheron has won first prize at all the national competitions she has attended and has won prizes in Italy, Germany and the United States. She has worked with musicians Lazar Berman, Claude Frank, John O'Connor, Elton John, and others and regularly tours Europe and America. She is a member of the Georgian Chamber Players.

Tickets are $20 for each concert and may be purchased by calling 706-867-2873 or at the door. For more information about the festival, including directions and accommodations, visit

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