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Winter Warmer II:
Intimate Voices

Saturday, March 9, 2024  |  3:00 PM

Hannaford Hall, USM  |  Portland

Ethereal beauty, profound majesty, and flashes of warmth… this delightful matinée is like hot cocoa by the fire after a wintry woods walk. Sibelius transports us to a world of Nordic landscapes, where a shimmering atmosphere intertwines with moments of quiet conversation. Best known for his monumental symphonies, Bruckner brings his mastery to the intimate realm of chamber music with a quintet filled with rich textures and expansive flourishes. Internationally renowned for her extraordinary lyricism, violist Kim Kashkashian joins the Borromeo String Quartet to bring PCMF’s inaugural Winter Warmer Festival to a heartwarming, radiant conclusion.

Jean Sibelius String Quartet in D Minor, Op. 56, "Intimate Voices" (1909)
Anton Bruckner String Quintet in F Major (1878-1879)

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program notes

Doors open at 2:30 PM. Program run time is approximately 90 minutes including a brief intermission. Join the artists in the lobby following the performance for mingling and refreshments. 

Did you know? Austrian composer Anton Bruckner celebrates his 200th anniversary this year.

Meet The Borromeo Quartet

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Nicholas Kitchen


Kristopher Tong

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Melissa Reardon

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Yeesun Kim

Each visionary performance of the award-winning Borromeo String Quartet strengthens and deepens its reputation as one of the most important ensembles of our time. Admired and sought after for both its fresh interpretations of the classical music canon and its championing of works by 20th and 21st century composers, the ensemble has been hailed for its “edge-of-the- seat performances,” by the Boston Globe, which called it “simply the best.”

Inspiring audiences for more than 25 years, the Borromeo continues to be a pioneer in its use of technology, and has the trailblazing distinction of being the first string quartet to utilize laptop computers on the concert stage. Reading music this way helps push artistic boundaries, allowing the artists to perform solely from 4-part scores and composers’ manuscripts, a revealing and metamorphic experience which these dedicated musicians now teach to students around the world. As the New York Times noted, “The digital tide washing over society is lapping at the shores of classical music. The Borromeo players have embraced it in their daily musical lives like no other major chamber music group.” Moreover, the Quartet often leads discussions enhanced by projections of handwritten manuscripts, investigating with the audience the creative process of the composer. And in 2003 the Borromeo became the first classical ensemble to make its own live concert recordings and videos, distributing them for many years to audiences through its Living Archive, a music learning web portal for which a new version will soon be released.

Passionate educators, the Borromeos encourage audiences of all ages to explore and listen to both traditional and contemporary repertoire in new ways. The ensemble uses multi-media tools such as video projection to share the often surprising creative process behind some works, or to show graphically the elaborate architecture behind others. This produces delightfully refreshing viewpoints and has been a springboard for its acclaimed young people’s programs. One such program is MATHEMUSICA which delves into the numerical relationships that under-pin the sounds of music and show how musical syntax mirrors natural forms. CLASSIC VIDEO uses one movement of a quartet as the platform from which to teach computer drawing, video editing, animation, musical form and production processes to create a meaningful joining of music and visual art.

The BSQ has been ensemble-in-residence at the New England Conservatory and Taos School of Music, both for 25 years, and has, for over two decades, enjoyed a long-term relationship with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum where it continues to regularly appear. It is quartet-in-residence at the Heifetz International Music Institute, where first violinist Nicholas Kitchen is Artistic Director. The quartet was also in residence at, and has worked extensively as performers and educators with the Library of Congress (highlighting both its manuscripts and instrument collections) and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The ensemble joined the Emerson Quartet as the Hittman Ensembles in Residence at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, and was recently was in residence at Kansas University, the San Francisco Conservatory, and Colorado State University, where it regularly appears.

The BSQ’s presentation of the cycle of Bartók String Quartets as well as its lecture “BARTÓK: PATHS NOT TAKEN,” both of which give audiences a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear a set of rediscovered alternate movements Béla Bartók drafted for his six Quartets, has received accolades. Describing a Bartók concert at the Curtis Institute, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the quartet “performed at a high standard that brought you so deeply into the music's inner workings that you wondered if your brain could take it all in ... The music's mystery, violence, and sorrow become absolutely inescapable.”

Also noteworthy in the BSQ repertory are its dramatic discoveries within the manuscripts of the Beethoven Quartets, and its performances of the COMPLETE CYCLE; the BEETHOVEN DECATHLON (four concerts of Beethoven’s last ten quartets, all with pre-concert lectures exploring his manuscripts); and single BEETHOVEN TRYPTICH concerts (one concert including three quartets). Its expansive repertoire also includes the Shostakovich Cycle and those of Mendelssohn, Dvořák, Brahms, Schumann, Schoenberg, Janáček, Lera Auerbach, Tchaikovsky, and Gunther Schuller.


The Quartet has collaborated with some of this generation’s most important composers, including Gunther Schuller, John Cage, György Ligeti, Steve Reich, Aaron Jay Kernis, Osvaldo Golijov, Jennifer Higdon, Steve Mackey, John Harbison, Sebastian Currier, and Leon Kirchner, among many others; and has performed on major concert stages across the globe, including appearances at Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie, Wigmore Hall, Suntory Hall (Tokyo), the Concertgebouw, Seoul Arts Center, Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, the Incontri in Terra di Siena Chamber Music Festival in Tuscany, Kammermusik Basel (Switzerland), the Prague Spring Festival, and the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt.


The group recently premiered new works written for it by Sebastian Currier and Aaron Jay Kernis at recitals at Carnegie Hall, Shriver Concerts, and the Tippet Rise Art Center. The ensemble continues to perform violinist Nicholas Kitchen's transcriptions of Bach’s Goldberg Variations and the Well-Tempered Clavier Bk. I, the latter of which the BSQ recently released an acclaimed premiere recording which hit the billboard charts.

“Nothing less than masterful” (, the Borromeo Quartet has received numerous awards throughout its illustrious career, including Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Career Grant and Martin E. Segal Award, and Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award. It was also a recipient of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and a prize-winner at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France.

Meet Kim Kashkashian

Hailed as “an artist who combines a probing, restless intellect with enormous beauty of tone,” Ms. Kashkashians’ work as performing and recording artist and pedagogue has been recognized worldwide.


She won the coveted Grammy Award for her recording of Ligeti and Kurtag solo viola works in 2013, and received the George Peabody Medal and Switzerland’s Golden Bow Award for her contributions to music. In 2016, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2020, named an Honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music.


As soloist, Kashkashian has appeared with the orchestras of Berlin, London, Vienna, Milan, New York and Cleveland in collaboration with Eschenbach, Mehta, Welser-Moest, Kocsis, Dennis Russel Davies, Blomstedt, and Holliger.


Recital appearances include the great halls of Vienna, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Tokyo, Athens, London, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia where she appears with the Trio Tre Voce,and in duo partnerships with pianist Robert Levin and percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky. Ms. Kashkashian has forged creative relationships with composers Kurtág, Penderecki, Schnittke, Kancheli, and Pärt and commissioned compositions from Eötvös, Ueno, Olivero, Larcher, Auerbach, Mansurian, and Hosokawa.


Ms. Kashkashian’s long association with ECM Records has yielded a discography that has garnered an abundance of praise and international awards—including a Grammy for her solo recording of works by Ligeti and Kurtág, a Cannes Classical Award for the viola concertos of Kurtág, Bartók, and Eötvös, an Edison Prize for her recording with pianist Robert Levin of the Brahms viola sonatas and the Opus Klassik prize for her recording of the unaccompanied cello suites of J.S. Bach.


She coaches chamber music and viola at New England Conservatory of Music and is founder and artistic director of Music for Food, a musician-led hunger relief initiative.To learn more, visit

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Kim Kashkashian

Meet The Composers


Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the late Romantic and early-modern periods. He is widely regarded as his country's greatest composer, with his set of seven symphonies at the core of his oeuvre. His other works include pieces inspired by nature, Nordic mythology, and the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. His best-known compositions include Finlandia, Valse triste, the Violin Concerto, the choral symphony Kullervo, and The Swan of Tuonela.

Written between his Third and Fourth Symphony, Sibelius composed his five-movement string quartet, Voces intimae, in the winter of 1908-1909. It remained the only major work for string quartet from Sibelius's mature period. The Latin title, which translates to "Intimate Voices" or "Inner voices," marks a "conversational quality" and "inwardness" of the music. The composer wrote about his work in a letter to his wife: "It turned out as something wonderful. The kind of thing that brings a smile to your lips at the hour of death. I will say no more."

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Anton Bruckner

Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer and organist best known for his symphonies and sacred music. His symphonies are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language and considerable length. Bruckner was very critical of his own work and often reworked his compositions, thus there are several versions of many of his works.

In 1878, violinist and Artistic Director of Vienna's Musikverein, Joseph Hellmesberger Sr., repeatedly urged Bruckner to compose a work for his string quartet. Instead, Bruckner began composing a viola quintet, finishing in July 1879. The composer dedicated the piece to Duke Max Emanuel of Bavaria. When looking at the score, Hellmesberger found the scherzo movement too challenging for the group to perform. In response, Bruckner wrote a less demanding, eight-minute long Intermezzo in the same key as an alternative. The first three movements were premiered by Winkler Quartet in Vienna in 1881, but it was not until 1885 that the Hellmesberger Quartet played the Quintet with the original scherzo. Duke Emanuel was so pleased by the composition that he gave Bruckner a diamond pin.

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