Utah State University’s Fry Street Quartet is again the “Best Instrumental Group” honoree in the Performing Arts category in the 2011 Best of State Awards. “We’ve received awards in the past, and it is always a great honor,” said violinist Debra McFaul. “They are often from our niche of chamber music. This one is nice, too, because it’s from a broader organization. We’re thrilled to be part of it.” Since 2002 Fry Street has been the professional string quartet in residence at USU, based in the Department of Music. They came to USU through a gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation and continue with the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation-Russell Family. “What they do for the community, Logan and beyond, is extraordinary,” said McFaul. “It really has felt like a collaboration. We all find their generosity and support very inspiring.” Members of the quartet have teaching responsibilities at USU, they run the school’s string program in addition to their involvement with the orchestra. Members of the Fry Street Quartet include McFaul, William Fedkenheuer (violin), Bradley Ottesen (viola) and Anne Francis (cello). On the date of the award in Salt Lake City, June 4, the quartet was out of state, featured in a concert in Wellfleet, Mass. Typically the group’s summer includes presenting workshops and performances before they return to the classroom at USU for fall semester. When the quartet presented its monumental Beethoven cycle in 2008, Robert Coleman wrote in the Salt Lake Tribune “…the quartet has quietly become a major player in the international chamber music scene.” “We’re just working hard doing our thing and we’ve put forth a sustained effort for quite awhile,” said McFaul. The quartet originated in Chicago and their first fulltime job was in North Carolina where they gave 85 educational concerts in their first year. “It was there we had a Rural Residencies Grant, which I like to think of as the Peace Corps for chamber music, at the time,” said McFaul. “It was during those years that I think we really cut our teeth. We got a lot of experience and worked very hard.” USU’s Caine College of the Arts is the only undergraduate program in the state with a resident quartet as faculty. “We believe that arrangement offers unique advantages to our students,” said McFaul. “A quartet is all about collaboration. We never work in isolation; the program grows through steady consideration, innovation and adjustments.”
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