Yeats Quartet

Yeats Quartet

Violinist CENOVIA CUMMINS is the concertmaster of The New York Pops, Riverside Symphony and the School of American Ballet Orchestra. She enjoys the rich diversity of musical freelance life in New York, where she has held many chairs on Broadway shows, recorded and appeared on TV and toured with many of the top stars in the music industry. She regularly performs as soloist and concertmaster at Carnegie and Alice Tully Halls. Cenovia’s violin solos have been featured in major movies releases including “Lovely and Amazing” and “Julie and Julia,” and she can be heard weekly in the Masterpiece Theater Mystery series and the CBS news themes. She has performed several times in New York City Ballet’s production of “Red Angels” for four dancers and solo electric violin.

Cenovia also enjoys composing and improvising. Her violin/cello duo “Small Suite” has garnered critical acclaim, and she recently released a solo piano recording of her improvisations. She also plays as the violinist and keyboard player for the band Ned Farr and the Good Red Road, which released their third album this spring.

Violinist LOUISE OWEN has been praised as being a “brilliant performer” by the Boston Globe. She has enjoyed a diverse musical path over the years, performing annual chamber music concerts with world-renowned pianist Menahem Pressler, touring North America and Europe with Barbra Streisand, making her Broadway stage debut opposite Christopher Walken in “James Joyce’s The Dead”, and since 2011, serving as concertmaster on tour with Harry Connick Jr. She has an active freelance life in New York City playing in many of the city’s leading ensembles, and she loves giving marathon solo recitals whenever possible.

A native of Southern California, Louise received much of her musical training in Boston at the New England Conservatory; she has worked extensively with Joey Corpus over the past two decades. Louise is a passionate home cook and part-time chocolatier in between gigs, and her CocoaRoar truffles have become legendary within the New York music community. She writes about her musical and culinary adventures on her blog, Kitchen Fiddler, and she invites you to visit her there. ( Louise has been featured twice on “60 Minutes,” in “Endless Memory” and “Memory Wizards,” the Emmy-nominated profiles about people with an extremely rare ability called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory.

Violist LISA SUSLOWICZ is equally at home in both chamber music and orchestral settings. A frequent substitute violist with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops Orchestras, she has held the principal viola position of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra since 1993 and principal viola of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra in recent years. She was a co-founder of the Griffon String Quartet, the Grand Prize winners of the 1991 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and she has been the violist of the Simon String Quartet for the past five years. Lisa recently had the honor of playing chamber music with Yo-Yo Ma for a benefit concert for the Terezin Music Foundation.

Lisa has a great passion for teaching students of all ages, and she has served on the viola factulty at the New England Conservatory Preparatory Division and their School of Continuing Education. She has been the primary viola sectional coach of orchestral repertoire at NEC and for the recently formed Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Born in Chicago and raised in Miami, Lisa began her musical studies on the piano but fell in love with the viola at age 9 and never looked back. She attended the Indiana University School of Music and continued her studies at the New England Conservatory in Boston, from which she received both Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music degrees. Lisa is a pinot noir enthusiast, and loves all things Italian. She currently lives in NYC with her two Maltese dogs, Callie and Thea.

Cellist HANNA HOLMAN joined the New York City Ballet Orchestra in 2012. She released her first solo CD in that same year, a recording of the complete Cello Sonatas by Bernhard Romberg with pianist Rene Lecuona. Her career has encompassed orchestral and chamber mustic, solo concerto performances and recitals, and teaching. In addition to her work with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, Hannah has also been the principal cellist of the Quad City Symphony since 2008. She began her professional career in England playing with the English String Orchestra under Yehudi Menuhin and the City of Birmingham Symphone Orchestra under Simon Rattle. She is an active chamber musician; she was a founding member of the Beaumont Piano Trio which performed around the U.S. And England. From 2002-2011, she was a member of the Maia Quartet, the University of Iowa’s quartet-in-residence, which toured internationally and throughout the U.S. as well as teaching at the university.

Hannah’s musical education began at age 5 with her grandmother, whose 1925 Becker cello she plays today. She studied at the Eastman School of Music and Michigan State University, and she earned her Master’s of Music with Fritz Magg at the New England Conservatory. She is eternally grateful for the loving and transformative teaching of Mr. Louis Potter during her junior high and high school years, and she herself is now a dedicated private teacher who finds great fulfillment in helping students of all ages grow musically. Hannah—whose hobbies include, food, wine, and finding killer deals on killer shoes—divides her time between New York and Iowa City where she lives with her son, Matisse, and their cat, Ripley.

Letter read by Cenovia Cummins at the first performance by the Yeats Quartet on October 3, 2016:

Michael Yeats, An Appreciation
by Cenovia Cummins

Michael is a wood whisperer. He’s also kind of a freak. He has the uncanny ability to tell you the sound profile and playing abilities of a bow without being a string player himself. Yep, that’s right, the guy has never ever drawn one of his bows across the string of a violin, viola or cello. I first met Michael at a dinner party in the early 1990s, but little did I know this man would have such a profound influence on my musical career and journey through life.

I started going to Michael for rehairs, or sometimes I’d stop by to chat or hang out. His shop was a fascinating collection of antiques, bow cases, curios and handmade tools. He had a passion for good wine and pernambuco wood. As my career advanced, I started to save some money to purchase a fine bow. At this point Michael was familiar with my playing and my instrument, and I told him to be on the lookout for a bow for me. One day I walked into the shop and he said, “I have a bow for you I think you will like. I found it at an estate sale, it’s in mint condition and it’s unusual in that Lamy left it octagonal. I think it will suit your playing and your violin.” He was totally right on. I grew in spades musically with that bow.

Over the next couple of years I observed that Michael had a gift for matching people to bows and an uncanny sense for knowing the qualities and characteristics of a bow, even though he couldn’t play it himself. I started bugging him, “Why don’t you make bows?” Michael was in such demand, he couldn’t carve out the time (pun intended) to make bows. So one day I put my money where my mouth was. I came in, handed him a check and said, “Make me a bow.” Well, he did, and that bow rocked, and so began Michael’s bow making career.

That first bow Michael made me got the name “Bambi” when I discovered one day in rehearsal (while counting rests and admiring my new Yeats bow) that inexplicabily, the face of Bambi was staring back at me from the pearl eye in the frog of the bow. I couldn’t wait to show Michael, who practically fell off of his work chair when I showed it to him. “holy cow!” he said, “If I had shaved one more layer off of the pearl, it wouldn’t be there!” It’s protected now with a little bit of clear nail polish so it won’t wear off anytime soon. That bow got me through so many auditions, performances and concerts. I couldn’t believe how the bow felt like it was custom-made for my hand. I truly felt invincible with it. It made playing the violin so much more fluid. The bow seemed to read my mind and be ready for the next musical passage before I was even aware of it.

Much to my joy, Michael and I continue to have an ongoing bow dialogue/relationship. Because he now lives in Europe, he sends me bows a few times a year to distribute and find homes for them. I cannot tell you the excitement I feel when the bows arrive in the mail. Bows are like people, as no two are alike, but a great bow maker will exhibit a signature or a DNA, much like how you can recognize a Van Gogh or a particular period of Picasso.

I always say Michael’s bows have your back because you can count on them to turn on a dime, spin a beautiful phrase, bounce and do spicatto without having to even think about how. It’s just automatic, like an extension of your hand. It eliminates the mind-chatter that can get in the way when one is under the pressure of performing. My friend Junah Chung summed it up in a hilarious text message he sent me one night about his new Yeats bow. “Cenovia, the bow just plays! You put it on the string and it just goes from frog to tip beautifully…not some F’d up journey!”

I’ve often said the bow is equally, if not more important, as the instrument itself. The bow transmits the player’s musical intentions to the instrument, and the instrument amplifies the result. The bow is a crucial link between the musician’s soul and instrument. When you get the right bow to mate with your instrument, it is pure joy and freedom of expression.

It’s not often a living bow maker gets a quartet named after them. Most bow makers never enjoyed their fame or accolades in their lifetime. Michael’s creations have influenced many fine musicians throughout the world and have been heard on many of the most famous concert stages in the world. My colleagues and I are so excited to have an opportunity to present this concert with a quartet of Yeats bows. Thank you Michael, and thanks to everyone here tonight to help us celebrate this fine artist.