Press Page  


April 1, 2010
For more information:
SARAH SCHAFFER, Manager, Pro Arte Quartet
PHONE: (608) 263-1900 (dept) / 608-836-7638 (dir tel & fax) / 608-217-6786 (cell)


MADISON, WISC – Never in history has a string quartet reached its one-hundredth birthday without some sort of disruption or hiatus in its continuity. That historic landmark is about to be reached, not by a European ensemble but by the University of Wisconsin’s critically acclaimed Pro Arte Quartet.

To celebrate this milestone, the Pro Arte announces its upcoming centennial with a concert at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12 in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Tickets are $50 and can be ordered on line at or by phone at CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800. The concert program includes Haydn’s String Quartet in C major, Op. 74, No.1; Alexander Zemlinsky’s String Quartet No. 2, Op. 15 (1914); and Dvorak’s String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 51. The program offers a glimpse into the ensemble’s legendary musicianship.

The Pro Arte Quartet was founded in 1912 in Belgium while its members were still conservatory students. Very quickly, it won renown for programming contemporary music, including the premiere performances of new works by Bartók, Honegger, Martinu, Milhaud, Stravinsky and many others. Named “Quartet of the Belgian Court,” the ensemble toured and recorded extensively. The Pro Arte played its American debut in 1926, performing at the inauguration of the Hall of Music in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, and returned for thirty tours to the U.S. It was during one of these that the musicians found themselves stranded in the U. S. when Hitler invaded Belgium. War-orphaned, the quartet accepted an invitation from the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison to serve as ensemble-in-residence, where it has remained ever since, presenting three concert series and educational outreach throughout the state and maintaining an international touring schedule. The quartet has performed at the White House, and has concertized throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. The Pro Arte’s pioneering residency was the first of its kind in the U. S., offering a model now widely emulated by other major string quartets, such as the Emerson, Tokyo, Juilliard and St. Lawrence.

The Pro Arte Quartet plans an especially rich anniversary season in 2011-12 to include the world premieres of seven new works it is commissioning from John Harbison, William Bolcom, Paul Schoenfield and other prominent American and Belgian composers. The same year it will be fêted with week-long composer residencies; a lecture series by prominent critics and scholars; a CD release of the new works; a book detailing the quartet’s deep history; various exhibits (including displays of manuscripts and first editions of works written for or dedicated to the quartet); and numerous other initiatives. An international concert tour follows in the next season, beginning with a house concert at the Washington D.C. home of the Belgian ambassador to the U.S.

Current quartet members are David Perry, first violin; Suzanne Beia; second violin; Sally Chisholm, viola; and Parry Karp, cello. The quartet’s website is

To schedule interviews, receive photos, or obtain more information about the Pro Arte Quartet, contact Sarah Schaffer, manager, at (608) 836-7638; via cell phone (608) 217-6786; or e-mail at