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Music Series: Maia to perform Haydn, Ravel

BY HANNA ROSMAN | JANUARY 29, 2010 7:30 AM

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For violinist Elizabeth Oakes, music and religion have always been connected.

The Maia Quartet will perform at the Congregational United Church of Christ, 30 N. Clinton St., as part of the Sundays at Four series, at 4 p.m. Jan. 31. The group will perform the Quartet in B minor, Op. 33, No. 1, by Joseph Haydn, and String Quartet in F major, by Maurice Ravel.

The ensemble was created by a group of orchestral students at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1990. As a UI resident quartet, the group rehearses three hours a day during the week. Oakes, one of the ensemble’s founding members, works as a full-time musician for the quartet. On top of rehearsals, the 42-year-old practices between one and three hours a day along with teaching music and preparing for concerts.

She began her study of music at the age of 11 in her sixth-grade orchestra, which she joined to be with a friend.

“I chose [the violin] so I didn’t have to compete with her but to be in the same class,” Oakes said.

Her love of music evolved over time with experiences in school, especially All-State competition in high school. For some, the strict statewide auditions conducted by All-State can seem daunting, but not for her.

“I was not very nervous,” Oakes said. “I had really good teachers.”

After high school, she attended Oberlin College majoring in English and music. Half way through, she realized she wanted to be a professional musician.

Hannah Holman, the cellist for the Maia Quartet, holds a similar passion for music. For Holman, chamber music is at the heart of becoming a musician. Her musical career began when she was 5.

Playing cello is a family tradition passed down to Holman by her grandmother, who served as her first teacher.

“We had to have a big car,” Holman said.

Working in an ensemble, she gets to know musicians a lot better as well as get a closer look at what kinds of music composers are creating.

“It’s different, like a marriage [because we] work together a lot,” she said. “An ensemble is like a smaller scale orchestra.”

As a result of the flood, the quartet has the opportunity to play in many venues ranging in size and type. Holman said playing in a religious venue, such as the Congregational Church, can provide spiritual connections and acoustic perfection.

“It is not so much about the religious part but spiritual,” Holman said. “Playing in a venue like this will be great.”

The Maia Quartet is a UI resident quartet, which allows the musicians to lend to the rich tradition of the arts in Iowa City.

“It is very necessary for an ensemble to have a home,” Oakes said. “I feel like I can contribute to the community.”


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