String Theory at the Hunter to Present Valentine Concert, Annual Family Concert

Events, Music, News

String Theory ValString Theory at the Hunter, in partnership with Lee University and the Hunter Museum of American Art, will continue its 15th season with a special Valentine Concert featuring the Romantic Piano Quartet. The performance will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 6:30 p.m.

The concert will open with a virtuoso showcase featuring violinist Arnaud Sussmann, violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and pianist Gloria Chien in Gershwin’s Three Preludes, Handel/Halvorsen’s Sarabande, and Harry Thacker Burleigh’s nostalgic Southland Sketches. The program will conclude with Schumann’s Piano Quartet in Eb major, written during the second year of his marriage to his wife Clara.

“Filled with lush sonorities and romantic melodies, this program promises to be a Valentine’s Day treat,” said Chien, founder and artistic director of String Theory.

“Pregame with Bob” will take place at 5:45 p.m., in which Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Music Director Emeritus Bob Bernhardt will discuss the evening’s program, giving an in-depth look at the featured composers and works, including interviews with the artists.

Another pre-concert feature is a local collaboration with Classical 90.5 WSMC called String Theory Hour, airing on Tuesday, Feb. 6, from 7-8 p.m. This will be a dedicated hour celebrating String Theory artists past and present, curated by Chien and providing listeners with a sneak preview of the upcoming concert.

Sussmann, winner of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant, has appeared with the American Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Paris Chamber Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He has been a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 2006 and has regularly appeared with them in New York and on tours. Winner of several international competitions, including the Andrea Postacchini of Italy and Vatelot/Rampal of France, Sussmann was named a Starling Fellow in 2006. He currently teaches at Stony Brook University and was recently named co-artistic director of Music@Menlo’s International Music Program. 

Pajaro-van de Stadt was the founding violist of the Dover Quartet and played in the group from 2008-2022. During her time in the group, the Dover Quartet was the First Prize-winner and recipient of every special award at the Banff International String Quartet Competition 2013, and winner of the Gold Medal and Grand Prize in the 2010 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. In addition to appearances as soloist with the Tokyo Philharmonic, the Jacksonville Symphony, and the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra, she has performed in recitals and chamber-music concerts throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Asia.

Canellakis is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with which he performs regularly in Alice Tully Hall and on tour internationally, including London’s Wigmore Hall, The Louvre in Paris, the Seoul Arts Center in Korea, and the Shanghai and Taipei National concert halls. He was recently renewed as the artistic director of Chamber Music Sedona, in Arizona, where he has made a major impact through his dynamic programming and educational and community outreach. He began his Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center career as a member of the Bowers Program, and he has also been in residence at Carnegie Hall as a member of Ensemble Connect.

Chien is the co-artistic director of Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon, as well as the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, Vermont, along with her husband, Soovin Kim. For the last decade, she was the director of the Chamber Music Institute at Music@Menlo. She frequently appears with the Chamber Music Society (CMS) of Lincoln Center and is a Steinway Artist. Chien has had a 21-year relationship with Lee University, where she is currently an artist-in-residence. 

Tickets for the Tuesday evening performance are on sale now through February 13 and are $45 for general admission, $35 for Hunter members, and $10 for students and music teachers.

The preceding Saturday, Feb. 10, at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., the Aeolus Quartet will be featured at the String Theory Annual Family Concert. These two concerts will take place at the Creative Discovery Museum.

Formed in 2008, the Aeolus Quartet comprises violinists Nicholas Tavani and Rachel Shapiro, violist Caitlin Lynch, and cellist Jia Kim. The Quartet has been widely recognized for its highly creative and engaging educational programs. The group was honored to receive a Chamber Music America Residency Partnership Grant, and in recognition of the Quartet’s artistic achievement, CMA awarded this project with the “Guarneri Quartet Residency” title.

The Aeolus Quartet will be in-residence with String Theory Feb. 7-11, focusing on the greater Chattanooga area for a week filled with educational and community engagement. Residency activities will include school presentations and visits to local nonprofit partners, retirement communities, and additional community spaces.

“String Theory is so excited to bring these extremely gifted educators and talented artists to our local community,” said Chien. 

Tickets for the family concerts are free with admission to the Creative Discovery Museum.

Support for String Theory’s Season 15 Artist Residency Program is generously provided by these community partners: Performing Arts League and Compass Commissioning and Design LLC.

String Theory was founded in 2009 by Chien to expose new audiences to chamber music, invigorate the local classical music scene, and cultivate a future generation of music lovers.

To purchase tickets for the Valentine Concert, or for more information, visit or call (423) 414-2525.

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