Quick, name something the University of South Carolina and Harvard University have in common.
Here’s one: Both schools boast the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet as artists in residence. (At Harvard, the quartet are full-time Blodgett Artists-in-Residence. At USC, they are the Quartet-in-Residence.)
The Boston-based quartet features violinists Daniel Chong and Ying Xue, violist Jessica Bodner and cellist Kee-Hyun Kim.
As part of the USC residency, the quartet has spent a week per semester in Columbia for the past several years. In addition to performing two public concerts that week, the musicians spend their time here “coaching student ensembles, working with individual string students, (teaching) public master classes, (and doing) outreach at schools and institutions in the outlying communities,” Kim said.
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“In the short period of time we’ve come here, we have enjoyed seeing the downtown area continue to grow and expand,” he said.
The quartet also maintains a busy touring schedule, performing at venues in North America and Europe every year.
When we come to USC, we stay at the Hilton downtown, which means most of our meals come from restaurants in the immediate vicinity. One of our favorite places within walking distance is Menkoi Ramen House. Their spicy tonkatsu ramen is superb and keeps us full! M Vista is always good when we’re craving Chinese. When we like to splurge, we’ve enjoyed places like Motor Supply Co. Bistro (the pork chops!), Blue Marlin (shrimp and grits!) and the Oak Table.
Of course, being at the Hilton, we have access to Ruth’s Chris’ Steak House’s generous breakfast buffet every morning – and at least for the first couple of days, we load up on all the biscuits and gravy and grits that we can get a hold of!
We’ve gotten some really great cocktails at Motor Supply, as well as at Bourbon. A favorite place to get a quick beer and some food after the end of a long day of teaching has been Flying Saucer – we like the enormous selection of beer plus the divey feel of the place.
Daniel and Jessica, the married couple in our group, have a 2-year-old son who’s usually with them for our visits, and they love to take him to the incredible Riverbanks Columbia Zoo and EdVenture Children’s Museum. Strolling around the grounds of the Capitol is always a nice way to unwind – especially since the weather is almost always warmer than in Boston! One of the things we’re really looking forward to on this trip, which will be our first in all our years here, is going to a USC football game! Go Gamecocks!
We will shamelessly plug our pair of concerts, on Thursday, Nov. 9, and Sunday, Nov. 12. The second concert will feature a collaboration with us and Joseph Eller, a member of USC’s clarinet faculty, performing Brahms’ monumental clarinet quintet. If you haven’t heard a string quartet live before, I encourage you to check it out! The range of emotions, and emotional intensity, that one can hear from just four string players, is quite remarkable.
When we’re in Columbia, our schedule is jam-packed with master classes, teaching, and concerts. So when we have some free time often we need some proper R&R. Some of us like to get massages. We love Jennifer Brown at Bliss Massage Therapy. She has an uncanny ability to recognize what our bodies need.
If you go
Parker Quartet concert
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9.
WHERE: USC School of Music Recital Hall, 813 Assembly St.
TICKETS: $15, adults; $10, seniors, military, USC faculty and staff; $5, students.
PROGRAM: Mozart’s Quartet in B-flat major, K. 589; Ligeti’s Quartet No. 1 “Metamorphoses Nocturnes”; Sibelius’ Quartet in D minor, Op. 56, “Voces Intimae.”
Free family concert
WHEN: 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12.
WHERE: Johnson Performance Hall, Darla Moore School of Business, 1014 Greene St.
PROGRAM: Stravinsky’s Concertino; Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for String Quartet; Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115 with USC professor Joseph Eller on clarinet.