YSU faculty's piano quartet hits world stage

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By William K. Alcorn



The Dana School of Music’s “Romantic Masterpieces” concert Sunday at DeYor Performing Arts Center’s Ford Family Recital Hall marked the world debut of the newly formed Dana Piano Quartet and the return of the Youngstown State University-DeYor relationship.

The expansion of the arts benefits the city, YSU and its students.

The arts are part of the foundation of the cultural and economic development of great cities; and the redevelopment of great cities needs the same thing, said YSU President Jim Tressel, speaking to an audience of 250 to 300 before the concert began.

“We have to build on the great resurgence in the Mahoning Valley,” said Tressel.

On the bill with the Dana Piano Quartet, which performed Johannes Brahms’ “Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25,” was the Dana Chamber Orchestra, which presented Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite” and Edward Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings.”

“Youngstown State’s return to DeYor represents the university’s commitment to community engagement and participating in the revitalization of the downtown,” said Phyllis Paul, dean of the College of Creative Arts and Communication. She said Sunday’s concert is the first in a series of Dana Music events to be presented at the DeYor this academic year.

In the audience were Ted Good, president and chief executive officer of the Steinway Piano Gallery in Cleveland, and Catherine Good Brulport, vice president, who were very complimentary of the quality of the Dana Chamber Orchestra and said the Dana Piano Quartet “more than lived up to its billing.”

“I love watching students working with their professors,” said Brulport.

Two members of the Dana Piano Quartet played with the Chamber Orchestra: Joseph Kromholz on violin, who directed the group, and Kivie Cahn-Lipman on cello. All of the Dana Piano Quartet members are professors at the Dana School of Music.

“For the students, this is a huge opportunity ... a life-changing opportunity to learn from world-known musicians and put on their resumes that they studied with them,” said Good.

“Every time we come here, we find something else for President Tressel to be proud of. The kids [Chamber Orchestra] are really good,” he said.

The Dana Piano Quartet features Kromholz, violinist; Michael Strauss, violist; Cahn-Lipman, cellist; and Cicilia Yudha, pianist.

Formed in August 2017 as an ensemble-in-residence at Dana, the quartet has been invited to perform concerts across the country, Paul said.

Kromholz is head of strings at Dana, where he teaches violin, viola and chamber music. He joined the Dana faculty in 2015. Strauss, who has performed around the world as a soloist, recitalist and in chamber music and symphonic settings, joined the Dana faculty in 2014.

Cahn-Lipman, who has degrees from Oberlin College and The Juilliard School and recently received his doctorate from the University of Cincinnati, joined the YSU faculty this year.

Yudha, who earned a doctorate in piano performance at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and holds degrees from the New England Conservatory and the Cleveland Institute of Music, joined the Dana faculty in 2012.

By having faculty members such as those in the Dana Piano Quartet, the school is able to attract more top-notch students.

Among those elite students is senior Eric Finkelstein, a double-bassist in the Chamber Orchestra, whose parents, Rick and Kim Finkelstein of Pittsburgh, drove to Youngstown to see their son perform.

“We’re very proud of him,” said Rick.

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