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Berofsky Piano Quartet

The Berofsky Quartet is made up of violinist Aaron Berofsky, violinist/violist Kathryn Votapek, pianist Charles Berofsky and cellist Sebastian Berofsky. Aaron and Kathryn met as students at the Juilliard School in New York. A few years later they had both accepted positions in the Chester String Quartet, then in residence at Indiana University South Bend. It was in this ensemble that they discovered how much they loved being together and making music together. They married in 1996 and welcomed their first son Charles in 2000. In 2002 the family moved to Ann Arbor, where Aaron and Kathryn are members of the string faculty at the University of Michigan. Shortly after their move, the family was complete with the arrival of Sebastian. It was only natural that the children should take music lessons, and with the help of excellent teachers, the boys have developed and grown, becoming accomplished musicians in their own right. Fortuitously, the family instrumentation is perfect for a piano quartet. The joy of playing this wonderful repertoire is augmented by the joy of making music as a family.

Aaron Berofsky

Violinist Aaron Berofsky has toured extensively throughout the United States and abroad, gaining wide recognition as a soloist and chamber musician. France’s Le Figaro calls his playing “beautiful, the kind of music-making that gives one true pleasure.” He has appeared in such renowned venues as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd Street Y, the Corcoran Gallery, Het Doelen, L’Octogone, Seoul National University, the Teatro San Jos  and the Museo de Bellas Artes. As soloist, he has performed with orchestras in the United States, Germany, Italy, Spain, Korea and Canada. Highlights include performing a cycle of Mozart violin sonatas at the International Festival Dei  in Spain and all of the Beethoven sonatas at New York’s Merkin Concert Hall. His recording of the complete Beethoven sonatas with pianist Phillip Bush has been met with great acclaim.

Mr. Berofsky was the first violinist of the Chester String Quartet for fifteen years. The quartet was acclaimed as “one of the country’s best young string quartets” by the Boston Globe. Tours took them throughout the Americas and Europe and the quartet members collaborated with such artists as Robert Mann, Arnold Steinhardt, Franco Gulli, members of the Alban Berg quartet, Andres Diaz, Eugene Istomin and Ruth Laredo. Some notable projects over the years included the complete cycles of the quartets by Beethoven and Dvorak, and numerous recordings by such composers as Mozart, Haydn, Barber, Porter, Piston, Kernis and Tenenbom. The Chester Quartet served as resident quartet at the University of Michigan and at Indiana University South Bend. Mr. Berofsky has been featured on NPR’s Performance Today and on the Canadian Broadcasting Company. His acclaimed recordings can be found on the Sony, Naxos, New Albion, ECM, Audio Ideas, Blue Griffin and Chesky labels. Recent recital tours have taken him to Germany, Italy and Korea, and he was featured soloist on the 2009 NAXOS recording of music by Paul Fetler, performed by the Ann Arbor Symphony, including the debut recording of Fetler’s Concerto No. 2. His recording of the complete chamber music of Franz Xavier Mozart was released in 2013 on Equilibrium.

An alumnus of the Juilliard School, Mr. Berofsky was a scholarship student of Dorothy DeLay. Other important teachers have included Robert Mann, Felix Galimir, Glenn Dicterow, Lorand Fenyves and Elaine Richey. Mr. Berofsky is known for his commitment to teaching and is Professor of Violin at the University of Michigan and served as visiting Professor at the Hochschule fur Musik in Detmold, Germany. He taught at the Meadowmount School of Music for many summers and is currently Chair of the String Department at the Chautauqua Institution. He is also on the faculty of the Bowdoin International Music Festival and the Luby International Violin Symposium. He has given masterclasses throughout the world, including during several tours of Korea and a recent trip to China. He has also given classes at the Cleveland Institute, Oberlin, Eastman, the Peter de Grote festival in the Netherlands, Domaine Forget in Quebec, Interlochen, the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival and the Conservatorio Palma Mallorca.

Mr. Berofsky’s interest in early music led him to perform with the acclaimed chamber orchestra Tafelmusik on period instruments, also making several recordings with them for the Sony label. He co-runs University of Michigan’s Baroque Chamber Orchestra with harpsichordist Joseph Gascho. With a strong dedication to new music as well, he has worked extensively with many leading composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, performing, commissioning and recording music by John Cage, William Bolcom, Zhou Long, Michael Daugherty, Aaron Jay Kernis, Susan Botti, Morton Subotnick, Paul Fetler and Bright Sheng. Mr. Berofsky is the Concertmaster and Artistic Advisor of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra.

Kathryn Votapek

A member of the Chester String Quartet for 15 years, violinist/violist Kathryn Votapek now maintains an active career as a soloist and guest artist at chamber music festivals throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. She has participated in numerous commissioning projects and premieres and can be heard with the Chester Quartet on the Koch International Classics and New Albion labels. Along with pianist Ralph Votapek and clarinetist Paul Votapek, she performs as violinist and violist with the Votapek Trio. She has also given numerous duo performances with her husband, violinist Aaron Berofsky.

Votapek has been on the faculty of the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Meadowmount School of Music, the Interlochen Arts Camp, the Madeline Island Music Camp, the Quartet Program, the Banff International Festival, the Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Italy), the Peter de Grote Summer Academy (Holland), and Music & More Summerfest (Bosnia and Herzegovina), as well as performing at the Klosterkammerfest (Germany), Speedside Festival (Canada), the International Deia Festival (Spain), the Garth Newel Festival, the Fontana Festival, and with the Chicago Chamber Musicians, and the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings.

Votapek is currently on the faculty at the University of Michigan. She serves as the Chair of Chamber Music at the Chautauqua Institution, and is the associate concertmaster of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. Previously she was associate professor of violin and artist-inresidence at Indiana University South Bend. Votapek received her bachelor of music degree at Indiana University and master’s degree from The Juilliard School. Her teachers were Robert Mann, Franco Gulli, and Angel Reyes.

Charles Berofsky

Charles Berofsky is a multi-faceted, 21-year old musician pursuing a double major in piano performance and composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Born in South Bend, Indiana and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Charles began piano lessons when he was six years old and started playing the organ at age 14. He currently studies piano with Alan Chow and composition with Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, as well as harpsichord with Lisa Crawford. Past mentors include Logan Skelton and John Ellis at the University of Michigan (piano), Robert Morris, David Liptak, and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez (composition), William Porter (harpsichord), and Scott Van Ornum (organ).

In January 2020 Charles became one of the youngest students to win a concerto competition at Eastman, performing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto with the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra in February during his sophomore year. He has received three composition prizes from his school as well as a recent commission from the American Guild of Organists, which resulted in the work The Storm Approaches for solo organ. Charles was recently awarded first prize, along with an audience favorite prize, at the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition in Cape Vincent, New York (senior division). He also won second prize at the 2021 Chautauqua piano competition, subsequently getting the chance to perform at the Chautauqua Amphitheater during the music festival season; and he was named as runner-up in the New York MTNA competition (Young Artist Piano Division) in the fall of 2021. Other awards include first prize in the Chicago College of Performing Arts Young Composer Competition, first prizes in the Dearborn and Dexter Youth Artist Concerto Competitions in southeastern Michigan, and first prize in the Rosalie Edwards Youth Artists Competition in Ann Arbor.

Charles has attended numerous summer music festivals in past years, including Chautauqua, Orford, Bowdoin, Brevard, and Interlochen, and has performed in Italy and Canada. He has played in masterclasses for Alexander Kobrin, Ronan O’Hora, Daniel Shapiro, and Malcolm Bilson. He has also given several recitals at Glacier Hills Senior Living Community in Ann Arbor and composed an original score to a short film, Midwestern, directed and produced by students at the University of Michigan. While a student at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Charles actively participated in the school’s Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Band, and Jazz Band. He performed Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Huron ensembles and he composed a piece for the Huron string orchestra, Repose, which was performed on the school’s 50th-anniversary concert in January 2018. During the 2017-2018 school year he served as one of the regular organists for St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Ann Arbor and was the main accompanist for the church choir.

Sebastian Berofsky

Sebastian Berofsky is an eighteen-year old cellist who began cello lessons at age 6. He previously studied with University of Michigan professor Richard Aaron, and he has also studied with, and played in master classes given by Amir Eldan, David Ying, Susan Moses, Steven Doane, and the Callisto Quartet. Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Sebastian graduated from Huron High School, where he was principal cellist of the Huron Symphony Orchestra. He was also principal of the Michigan Youth Symphony Orchestra. Sebastian was the winner of the Michigan American String Teachers Association chamber music prize, Michigan Youth Arts Festival chamber music award, Rosalie Edwards young artist competition, Music Teachers National Association Senior String Division award (Michigan), and the Michigan Pops Orchestra and Huron High School concerto competitions. He has attended Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, the Indiana University Summer String Academy, Bowdoin International Music Festival, and Center Stage Strings Advanced Chamber Music Program. He was awarded the principal cello position of the Michigan All-State Middle School Orchestra in 2016 and 2017 and the Michigan All-State High School Orchestra in 2019 and 2020.

In 2018 Sebastian performed the Mendelssohn A Major Viola Quintet with faculty members and peers after winning the summer chamber music competition at the IU Summer String Academy. Sebastian was recently a guest artist with the Pressenda Chamber Players in Washington, D.C., and he has been re-engaged to perform with them in March 2022. With the Berofsky Piano Quartet, he has played on the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra’s chamber series, as well as the Chautauqua Chamber Music series and University of Delaware Master Players. He has played solo recitals at the University of Michigan School of Music, the Ann Arbor City Club, and Glacier Hills Senior Living Community.

Sebastian is a scholarship first-year undergraduate student at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, where he studies with Professor Desmond Hoebig and coaches chamber music with Professor Norman Fischer.

Anthony Beer Anthony Beer, Artistic Director

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