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Aizuri Quartet with Michael Rusinek perform March 14

Aizuri Quartet


LOGAN — When Utah State University faculty member Dennis Hirst announced plans for this year’s Wassermann Festival, he emphasized that it should more accurately be referred to as the Wassermann Concert Series. He referenced the original intent of the festival’s namesake, Irving Wassermann, for the “series” concept. 

“We celebrate Mr. Wassermann’s love of music and teaching,” Hirst said when launching the 2015-16 series. “He wanted to bring great music performances to campus for our students and, by extension, to our community. We owe a lot to Mr. Wassermann for that vision.”

At the conclusion of the 2015-16 series, we also owe a lot to Hirst for bringing that vision back to the festival. The season has seen an impressive array of artists from diverse disciplines and concludes with another event that expands and redefines the Wassermann’s musical scope.

Appearing Monday, March 14, is the Aizuri Quartet and clarinetist Michael Rusinek.

Their appearance at USU’s Wassermann Series is a part of the Curtis on Tour program, an initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Performance Hall on USU’s Logan campus.

Reserved seat tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for USU faculty and staff and students ages 8 and older can purchase a $12 ticket. Tickets can be purchased at the Caine College of the Arts Box Office located in room L101 in the Chase Fine Arts center or online via a link on the Wassermann website ( More information on the artists is also available at the Wassermann website.

“This concluding concert brings us music from the string quartet repertoire, plus a pairing of the quartet with clarinet,” Hirst said. “The program provides an exclamation mark to this year’s series. We’ve had a wonderful and diverse array of concerts.”

The March 14 concert program in Logan begins with Mozart’s “Quintet in A major, K. 581” with the Aizuri Quartet and Rusinek. Hirst calls this a significant work for clarinet that is exquisitely beautiful. It was written by Mozart for a friend, the virtuoso Anton Stadler, in 1789 ― late in Mozart’s life.

Curtis on Tour features faculty artists from the Curtis Institute of Music. The Aizuri Quartet is its string quartet in residence, much like the USU facility members who comprise the highly respected Fry Street Quartet. Clarinetist Rusinek is also a faculty member at Curtis and principal clarinet in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

The second selection on the program was written specifically for the Aizuri Quartet and this tour, “RIPEFG” for string quartet, by Curtis alum Yevgeniy Sharlat. The back-story for the piece is touching, and Hirst will include the composer’s notes in the program. The work is written as a remembrance of the composer’s former student Ethan Frederik Green.

Following intermission, the program closes with “String Quartet in D Minor, Op. 56” (“Voices intimae”) by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. In notes, John Henken, director of publications for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, writes that the five-movement quartet is “often spare and brooding” and that the subtitle “‘Intimate Voices’ suggests both the conversational quality of chamber music and the inwardness of Sibelius’ ruminations.” In the work Hirst hears a blend of Russian intense emotional expression and French impressionism.

Biographical information for the Aizuri Quartet and its members Miho Saegusa, violin; Zoe Martin-Doike, violin; Ayane Kozasa, viola; and Karen Ouzounian, cello; as well as clarinetist Rusinek, is on the Wassermann website (

“The 2015-2016 Wassermann Festival Concert Series was designed with one primary goal,” Hirst said. “We wanted to feature great music making in a variety of disciplines ― that’s the experience I wanted for our students and the community. This season represented something new. We’ve covered masterpieces of J. S. Bach to music written within the last year. We’ve explored the keyboard through not just the piano, but also the organ and the harpsichord. And we conclude with a chamber ensemble which in many ways represents the musical realization of what the keyboard player hopes to do with two hands. It’s been a remarkable season.”

For information on the concert or any of the Wassermann Festival events, contact Hirst at



Writer: Patrick Williams USU/pw 03/08/16

Photo: (WassermannAizuriquartet_sized) Members of the Aizuri Quartet are featured in USU’s

Wassermann Festival Series’ final concert of the season Monday, March 14.

Photo: (Wassermann_clarinetist_sized) Clarinetist Michael Rusinek is also featured in the

Wassermann concert when he joins the Aizuri Quartet for Mozart’s “Quintet in A major, K.