Amernet Residency

Amernet String Quartet Residency

September 14-16, 2018

A one-of-a-kind residency comprised of a weekend of collaborative events with the Omaha Conservatory of Music and the International Concert Series at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

  • September 14: Amernet String Quartet Masterclass with University of Nebraska String students at the Milo Bail Student Center Ballroom, 6203 University Drive N, 9-11 AM. Open to the public.
  • September 14: Amernet String Quartet Performance on the UNO International Concert Series, held at Omaha Conservatory of Music, 7023 Cass St. at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 General Admission, $8 Students, Seniors, and Military, and may be purchased at Ticket Omaha.
  • September 15: Amernet String Quartet Masterclass for students at the Omaha Conservatory of Music, 1-3 p.m. Open to the public. 
  • September 16: Amernet String Quartet Performance on the Vesper Concerts Series, Presbyterian Church of the Cross, 1517 S. 114 St., at 3 PM. Free admission. **Private reception with Amernet after the concert with $100 donation. Contact by September 13 to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity!

Amernet Residency

by Greg Staskiewicz

Music has deep roots. A composer’s life and music grow together and become one and the same thing. A piece of music is more than notes – it is a story.

Amernet String Quartet will soon come to Omaha to play music that brings to life voices lost in the Holocaust and tells stories about New Orleans Creole culture, suffering in the Soviet Union and more.

Vesper Concerts, along with the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Omaha Conservatory of Music, will bring Amernet to Omaha from Sept. 14 to 16. The quartet will perform two concerts and teach master classes for Omaha music students.

“Most groups tend to specialize either in the traditional repertoire or contemporary music, or play the traditional repertoire and pay lip service to the music of today. But we’re deeply involved, on the one hand, with the old stuff, and on another, with very new music,” said Jason Calloway, cellist for Amernet.

Amernet will play at Presbyterian Church of the Cross, at 1517 S. 114th St., at 3 p.m. on Sept. 16, the quartet’s second time performing for Vesper Concerts.

There, Amernet will play the work of several musicians, among them Erwin Schulhoff, a Jewish composer who died in the Holocaust, Calloway said.

Schulhoff was a German Jew born in Czechoslovakia. He studied at Prague Conservatory as a boy, continuing his studies until the outbreak of World War I, when he was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army, according to an article written by Derek Katz, on the website of The OREL Foundation.

Schulhoff served in Hungary, where he was hit by shrapnel, and on the Russian front. After the war, he became a popular pianist and composer, touring Europe, according to the article.

However, the Nazi takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1939 cut short Schulhoff’s path as a musician. In 1941, he was arrested and sent to the Wülzburg concentration camp, where he died of tuberculosis a year later, according to the article.

“Our wider goal, I would say, other than simply reghettoizing these kinds of composers, is to play their music in the context of composers we know, or other composers of their time period who didn’t live through these events in the same way,” Calloway said.

Amernet brings more to audiences than just music, Calloway said. The quartet also discusses the music and its composers with concert-goers.

“We are born teachers, all of us. So everywhere we go, we like to meet anyone who’s open to more of an experience than simply sitting in the audience and actively digesting a concert,” he said.

Amernet’s concert at Presbyterian Church of the Cross will also include works by Dmitri Shostakovich and contemporary composers Caroline Shaw and Wynton Marsalis, Calloway said.

Amernet will play from Marsalis’ work, “At the Octoroon Balls”, Calloway said. The work explores New Orleans Creole culture.

“Our goal, of course, is to share the music we love as widely as we can,” Calloway said.

Stacie Haneline, artistic director at Vesper Concerts, said that when she plans future concerts, she likes to find out what makes the musicians tick.

“What is important to you?” she asks. “Why are you performing this music? Why are you invested in what you’re doing?”

The reason to hold concerts has changed, Haneline said. In our time, the reason is more to have conversations and speak to things happening in our world.

“It really is to challenge people and grow, and have us grow the community, in what’s happening in a much larger humanity that we live in,” Haneline said. “And I think the arts is really what will resonate.”

Amernet will also hold two master classes for Omaha string students. The first class will be in UNO’s Milo Bail Student Center Ballroom on Sept. 14 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and the second class will be held Sept. 14 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Omaha Conservatory of Music.

Amernet will do its performance in the UNO International Concert Series at the Omaha Conservatory of Music at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 14.

Amernet was founded in 1991 at The Juilliard School in New York City. The founders came up with the name Amernet by mashing together the names of four of their favorite composers and musicians: (Am)adeus, (E)merson, Gua(rne)ri and (T)okyo.

Though Amernet’s current configuration does not include any of the founding members, the group continues in the tradition of success that the founders started – Amernet continues to tour, and it is the Ensemble-in-Residence at Florida International University in Miami.

Haneline said she has known Amernet since its founding, while she was a student at The Manhattan School of Music.

“It’s a really special group on so many levels,” she said.