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Sunday, December 24, 2023

Violist Joseph Skerik is the latest member of Emory’s Vega Quartet

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The final couple of years have confirmed to be a time of transition amongst many mainstays of the Atlanta classical music scene. Be it the altering of the guard on the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra that introduced us Nathalie Stutzmann as music director or the premature passing of Georgian Chamber Gamers founder Christopher Rex, the native classical group has skilled a number of seismic shifts. 

The Vega Quartet, Emory’s artist-in-residence ensemble, has additionally seen change with the current retirement of long-serving violist Yinzi Kong. The quartet has enlisted Joseph Skerik to take the violist chair.

The quartet, with Skerik, performs Friday at midday on the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta as a part of the Bach’s Lunch sequence by the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta. The live performance will characteristic every member of the Vega Quartet performing solo on items by Amy Seashore, Astor Piazzolla, Pablo de Sarasate and York Bowen. The live performance is free.

Joseph Skerik
Joseph Skerik.

A local of Interlochen, Michigan, Skerik discovered the viola early in life because of his mom, who serves because the viola teacher on the Interlochen Arts Academy. “Listening to her observe after I was a toddler put the sound of the viola in my head,” Skerik says. “After which I used to be round a number of musicians by the use of her being round a number of musicians.” 

After beginning on the violin at age 5, Skerik switched to viola at age 11. The shift introduced with it a deeper dedication to music. Being a baby of the web period, Skerik was capable of discover his burgeoning curiosity in classical music with YouTube as his information. “I believe whenever you’re naturally curious within the age of the web, the algorithm figures you out,” he says.

The results of these musical deep dives was a strong consciousness of the complete breadth and width of the classical canon and the conclusion that music could be his life. 

Skerik attended the Cleveland Institute of Music for his undergraduate diploma, the place he studied below the extremely lauded Jeffery Irvine. “He’s a instructor’s instructor,” says Skerik. “Massively devoted. He was the principle motive I needed to go to Cleveland.”

Skerik treasures his time on the faculty. “They’ve one of many world’s biggest orchestras,” he says. “They’ve a fantastic chamber music program. It’s a really small faculty, so you bought plenty of particular person consideration.” 

The relative calm of town of Cleveland was interesting to Skerik as nicely, who discovered it to be an environment conducive to practising music with out the distracting hubbub of larger cities. “I might have gotten to Julliard [in New York City],” he says. “There’s the site visitors, the subways, the individuals, the noise, the problem discovering a spot to observe and a spot to reside.” 

Skerik had begun to review at Yale for his grasp’s diploma when the chance to hitch the Vega Quartet first introduced itself. “I used to be at a pageant referred to as Heifetz in the summertime of 2022 in a quartet put collectively for the pageant,” he says. Impressed with the outcomes of the initially one-off quartet, the pageant’s director advisable the ensemble for the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Pageant.

“The one that ran that pageant was Will Ransom [Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta founder and artistic director],” Skerik says. “He heard me carry out each in solo and quartet.” 

Ransom made the passing suggestion that Skerik throw his hat within the ring of candidates to exchange Yinzi Kong. Sterik and a handful of different candidates spent per week with the Vega Quartet, each as a performer and as an educator. Sterik was supplied the place in April of this yr. 

Along with his appointment with the Vega Quartet, Skerik will train a small variety of undergrad college students and deal with extra work with the Emory Youth Chamber Program. “I really like performing, however I’m all the time considering instructing,” he says. “The scholars I’ve gotten to work with thus far are clearly very good, very gifted and really .” 

The shift from the quiet confines of Yale and New Haven to the hustle and bustle of the Atlanta space has been a tradition shock for Sterik, however one which he welcomes with enthusiasm. “Atlanta is an unimaginable metropolis — it’s bought a fantastic symphony orchestra and a fantastic opera orchestra. It’s a stupendous metropolis and it’s artistically wealthy.”

Sterik seems to be ahead to the Vega Quartet’s upcoming season and is especially enthusiastic about taking part in the brand new quartet by Joel Thompson, which the Vega Quartet will current in its world premiere at Emerson Corridor on March 30.

“I actually love Thompson’s music,” says Sterik. “And he’s an Emory alum and is presently a doctorate candidate on the Yale College of Music, which is a enjoyable connection.”


Jordan Owen started writing about music professionally on the age of 16 in Oxford, Mississippi. A 2006 graduate of the Berklee School of Music, he’s knowledgeable guitarist, bandleader and composer. He’s presently the lead guitarist for the jazz group Different Strangers, the facility steel band Axis of Empires and the melodic demise/thrash steel band Century Spawn.

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