The visionary performances of the Borromeo String Quartet have established them as one of the most important string quartets of our time.   For their Music in the Park Series concert they will be joined by violist Kim Kashkashian, winner of the 2012 “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” Grammy for her ECM disc of Kurtág and Ligeti. Detroit-born Kim Kashkashian has been called the pre-eminent viola player of our time, celebrated as a soloist as well as in chamber music on an instrument not typically associated with stardom.

Borromeo String Quartet with Kim Kashkashian, viola

Now celebrating their 25th anniversary, the Borromeo have performed a vast repertoire worldwide and collaborated with many of today’s great composers and performers. They have been the faculty ensemble-in-residence at the New England Conservatory of Music for twenty-two years and work extensively with the Library of Congress, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Audiences and critics alike have championed the Borromeo’s ability to bring back the contemporary fire to often-heard repertoire, while making even the most challenging new music approachable. “To hear and see them perform has always felt to me like taking a private tour through a composer’s mind,” says Cathy Fuller, Classical New England host on WGBH radio. “They probe and analyze from every angle until they discover how to best unveil the psychological, physical, and spiritual states that a great piece of music evokes. They’re champions of new music…but they also thrive on making the old classics sound vital and fresh.”

The quartet has presented string quartet cycles by Lera Auerbach, Bartók, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Janá?ek, Schoenberg, Gunther Schuller, Shostakovich, and Schubert, and will begin their first cycle of the Tchaikovsky string quartets at the Gardner Museum this season. They’ve enjoyed collaborations with composers John Cage, Gyorgy Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Jennifer Higdon, Steve Mackey, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Derek Bermel, Lior Navok, Pierre Jalbert, James Matheson, and Curt Cacioppo, among many others.

The Borromeo have been trailblazers in the use of laptop computers for reading music. This method allows them to perform entirely from 4-part scores and also composer’s manuscripts, a revealing and transformative experience that they now teach to students around the world. In concert they often employ projections of handwritten manuscripts to vividly illustrate the creative process. In 2003, the Borromeo became the first classical ensemble to make their own live concert recordings and videos on tour and distribute them to audiences through the Borromeo Living Archive.

The Borromeo Quartet have received many awards throughout their illustrious career, including Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Career Grant and Martin E. Segal Award, and Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award. They won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and top prizes at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France.


Kim Kashkashian, internationally recognized as a unique voice on the viola, was born of Armenian parents in Michigan. She studied the viola with Karen Tuttle and legendary violist Walter Trampler at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore. Since fall 2000 she has taught viola and chamber music at New England Conservatory.

Following Grammy Award nominations for several previous recordings, Kashkashian received a 2012 Grammy Award in the “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” category for Kurtág and Ligeti: Music for Viola, on the ECM Records label. Kashkashian’s recording, with Robert Levin, of the Brahms Sonatas won the Edison Prize in 1999. Her June 2000 recording of concertos by Bartók, Eötvös and Kurtág won the 2001 Cannes Classical Award for a premiere recording by soloist with orchestra.

Kashkashian has worked tirelessly to broaden the range of technique, advocacy, and repertoire for the viola. A staunch proponent of contemporary music, she has developed creative relationships with György Kurtág, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Giya Kancheli, and Arvo Pärt, and commissioned works from Peter Eötvös, Ken Ueno, Thomas Larcher, Lera Auerbach, and Tigran Mansurian.

Kashkashian’s musicianship has been well represented on recordings through her association with the prestigious ECM label in a fruitful collaboration that has been continuous since 1985.


Nicholas Kitchen, violin

Nicholas Kitchen, whose musicianship has been hailed by the New York Times as “thrilling, vibrant and captivating,” is one of the most active and innovative performers in the music world today. He is a solo violinist, chamber musician, teacher, video artist, technology innovator and arts administrator.

Kitchen has recently been entrusted with an important role of continuing the tradition of Szymon Goldberg. Mr. Goldberg’s wife, pianist Miyoko Yamane Goldberg arranged that her husband’s Guarneri del Gesù, known as the “Baron Vita,” joined its famous twin, the “Kreisler” Guarneri, in the collection of the Library of Congress. Both instruments were made by Guarneri at the same time, from the same wood. The Baron Vita was given on the condition that Mr. Kitchen play and travel with the instrument during his career and that he and the Library of Congress carry the extraordinary artistic approach evident in Mr. Goldberg’s playing and teaching into the future. This is most directly in evidence in the Szymon Goldberg Seminar and Festival in Toyama, Japan, where Mr. Kitchen serves as leading faculty. Nicholas has taught at the New England Conservatory of Music since 1992, when at the conclusion of their studies the Borromeo Quartet was asked to become Quartet-in-Residence.

Embracing the possibilities of computer animation, Kitchen has developed his skills in drawing and graphic work to create animated material to be projected during live performance, including Childsplay, a video about Beethoven’s Op. 135 Quartet; and Ludwig’s Wig, a program about Beethoven which culminates in an abstract animation along with the second half of his Grosse Fugue.

Mr. Kitchen has performed for many years on the A. J. Fletcher Stradivarius, a violin purchased for long term loan to him by the A. J. Fletcher Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina. In the present situation where he is able to play the Goldberg Del Gesu, the Foundation has graciously allowed the violin to be used by the second violinist of the Borromeo Quartet.

Kristopher Tong, violin

Considered one of the most exciting musicians emerging today, Violinist Kristopher Tong has been praised for his depth of insight, virtuosity and creative flair.

A native of Binghamton, New York, Mr. Tong began his violin studies in a public elementary school program in the Johnson City School District before moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, when he was 11. As a student of Leonard Braus he was concertmaster of the Utah Youth Symphony for two years at age 15. He received his Bachelors degree at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he studied with the late Franco Gulli, Yuval Yaron, and Miriam Fried. In 2005 he completed his Masters Degree at the New England Conservatory of Music under Ms. Fried.

First generation born in the United States to parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan, Mr. Tong has an older sister, Melissa, who is an accomplished violinist residing in New York City and a younger sister, Jessica, who dances with the famed Hubbard Street contemporary dance company in Chicago.

Mai Motobuchi, viola

Mai Motobuchi has earned distinction as a soloist , chamber musician and teacher in the United States and her native Japan. As a soloist, she has performed with such well-known artists as Yo-Yo Ma and Seiji Ozawa. Ms. Motobuchi’s career in chamber music has taken her around the world performing at the finest concert halls in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. She has toured with the Colorado String Quartet during their 1999-2000 season. Since joining the Borromeo String Quartet in 2000, she has collaborated with the world’s finest musicians, including, Leon Fleischer, Gary Graffman, Bernard Greenhouse, Kim Kashkashian, Midori, David Shifrin, Richard Stoltzman, and Dawn Upshaw.

In addition to her active performing career, Ms. Motobuchi is in demand as a teacher on two continents, serving on the Viola and Chamber Music faculty at both the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and at the Tenrikyo Institute of Music in Tenri, Japan. A gifted teacher, she taught viola, violin and chamber music to special talented students in the preparatory division at Rice University, and since 1998 has enjoyed the distinction of having each of her students in Japan named as First Prize recipients in the All Japan MBS Youth Music Competition at every level.

Ms. Motobuchi gained recognition in Japan as first prize winner in the 1989 All Japan MBS Youth Music Competition, and in the 1990 and 1991 All Japan Ensemble Competition. Upon coming to the United States, she won the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition (Junior Division), the Henri Kohn Memorial Award from the Tanglewood Music Center, and, as a student at Rice University, received the John and Sally Cox Award, the E. Dell Butcher Award, and the Willie Muery Award, in addition to being named an Alice Pratt Brown Scholar.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Mai Motobuchi started playing violin at age five. Upon receiving her Diploma from Tenrikyo Institute of Music in Japan, she was awarded full scholarships to study viola at Michigan State University, where she received her Bachelor of Music, and Rice University in Houston, where she earned her Master of Music. She followed with an advanced performance diploma from Internationale Meisterkurze Koblenz in Koblenz, Germany. Ms. Motobuchi’s teachers have included Robert Dan, Martha Strongin Katz, Paul Katz, and Yoko Washio Iwatani. Ms Motobuchi plays a Moes and Moes viola, dated 1988.

Yeesun Kim, cello

Hailed by the New York Times for her “focused intensity” and “remarkable” performances, cellist Yeesun Kim enjoys worldwide acclaim as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. A founding member of the Borromeo String Quartet, Ms. Kim has performed in over 20 countries, and in many of the world’s most illustrious concert halls and Festivals.

As a member of the Borromeo Quartet since its inception in 1989, Ms. Kim has had extensive involvement with NPR’s “Performance Today,” the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York, and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Ms. Kim currently serves on the faculty of the New England Conservatory, in the cello and chamber music departments, and teaches each summer at the Taos School of Music in New Mexico. She has also taught at the McGill International String Quartet Academy in Canada, the Suntory Hall Fellows Academy in Japan, at the Seoul National University and National University of Arts in Korea, and for the Foulger Institute in New Jersey .

A recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award, Lincoln Center’s Martin Segal Award, and the Evian International String Quartet Competition as a member of the Borromeo Quartet, Ms. Kim has garnered numerous awards individually as well, including winner of the Ewha and Jungagng National Competitions in Korea, and the Seoul Young Artists Award for achievement in music and academics.

Kim is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, with advanced degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music. Her teachers include Lawrence Lesser, David Soyer, Peter Wiley, Hyungwon Chang, and Minja Hyun. She plays a Peregrino Zanetto cello, circa 1576, one of the oldest in the world.

Date & Venue

Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 4pm
Saint Anthony Park United Church of Christ

Join us at 3pm in the church for a pre-concert talk with the artists.

Concert length is estimated to be 2 hours with one intermission.


Unable to attend? Please turnback your tickets.

If you have tickets but are unable to attend, please consider turning back your tickets as a tax-deductible contribution. Your generosity allows other music lovers to attend our sold out concerts. Turnback tickets online or call 651.292.3268 at least one hour prior to the concert.


String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130 (original version, premiered in March 1826, with Grosse Fugue (Op. 133)
GUNTHER SCHULLER (1925 – 2015)
“Canzona” from String Quartet No. 3 (1986)
ANTONIN DVOŘÁK  (1841 – 1904)
String Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 97, “American”  (1893)
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear Beethoven’s original version of his Op. 130 quartet. Premiered in March 1826, this version originally ended with the triumphant Grosse Fugue, which was later removed by his publisher. Widely condemned by critics of the time, this massive double fugue is now considered among Beethoven’s greatest achievements and often performed on its own. 



Most artists can go to extremes when needed; then there are those who seem to positively thrive there — Caravaggio, Almodóvar, Nirvana. The Borromeo Quartet, too.

The Boston Globe

The digital tide washing over society is lapping at the shores of classical music. The Borromeo players have embraced it in their daily musical lives like no other major chamber music group.

The New York Times

Each of the greatest string quartets has redefined what the possibilities of the medium are: through the perfection of its ensemble and intonation, through its poise and its passion, the Borromeos are recreating the medium anew and we are lucky to be here to hear it.

The New York Times