As Asya Meshberg works with a pair of students on their parts for a Debussy string quartet, her body movements reflect her intensity. She leans in toward her music stand and studies the written notes. She gestures with her hand to reinforce the tempo. And more than anything else, she listens.
There's a big difference between really hearing music and merely attempting to play it, and Asya teaches that difference to students at the Chamber Music Institute for Young Musicians. Program participants had their culminating concert consisting of performances by seven quartets this past weekend.
Asya says she started the institute in 1996 as a way "to introduce the wealth of string quartet repertory to talented, musically well-trained young people and to create opportunities for them to learn and perform these musical masterpieces in their entirety."
The institute is based in Stamford, but Asya's ties in Fairfield County are broad. For one thing, the institute serves young musicians from throughout the region. Asya lives in Darien, and the professional ensemble she founded, the Lumina String Quartet, is in residence at Norwalk Community College.
Asya grew up in the former Soviet Union. "I left because while I got a wonderful education, it was an oppressive political situation," she says. She was child prodigy on violin, and when she came to the United States, she earned a master's degree in violin performance from Juilliard, studying with the renowned pedagogue Dorothy DeLay. She's been concertmaster of three major symphony orchestras and also has performed with the New York Philharmonic, among other ensembles.
But chamber music is closest to her heart. "In teaching our students to appreciate the beauty of chamber music, we are helping to create the musicians and classical music audiences of tomorrow," she says.
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