Innovation in Chamber Music: the Desguin Quartet at the Joseph Karolyi Foundation

Training | April 22, 2024

The Joseph Karolyi Foundation manages a European Cultural Meeting Centre in Hungary (member of the European Meeting Centre Network in ACCR, Association des Centres culturels de rencontre) in the former estate of my husband’s family. We have been organizing chamber music concerts since 2000. We specialize in classical music and especially quartets, as until last year we had no good piano for professional concerts!

In April 2024, we hosted a residency by the Belgian Desguin Quartet, with training hosted by Kolarac and supported by MERITA. This was a VERY interesting event!

There was extremely friendly cooperation between the musicians and their “director”, whom they did not know before! I think the musicians enjoyed it!

The cornerstone of this initiative lies in a series of online training modules: seven meticulously curated topics align with string quartets’ interests, training organizations’ expertise, and the desires of concert organizations. Ranging from exploring intersections between music and other arts to dismantling classical music norms by organizing performances in unconventional spaces, these modules promise a transformative learning experience.

What sets this initiative apart is its multifaceted approach. It dives deep into crucial areas, including fostering interactions between professional musicians and fragile communities, transcending the concert experience by transforming venues into multimedia theaters, and nurturing chamber music’s connection with younger audiences.

For the concert, the most surprising feature was the central position of the quartet and the way they moved around, as well as the inclusion of other small music pieces than the one in the program (Dvorak, Quartet N°12).

The concert was a great success! We had a “full house” for the first time for a quartet concert! 135 chairs installed, only 4 or 5 empty. The vast majority of the audience were highly satisfied, and enjoyed the “modernity” of the presentation. The concert was followed by a reception, hosted by the Ambassador of Belgium.

The audience was composed of retired persons from the nearby city Székesfehérvar, music teachers and young students. The great majority had already been at a concert, although some indeed not during the last year, and knew the Foundation. Often, it is the wife or the mother of the family who represents the driving force to attend a concert.

In conclusion, this way of presenting classical music played by string quartets can increase interest in chamber music, especially among younger generations. Schools, academia, conductors and teachers should be more persuasively invited to such innovative concert experiences

Angelica Karolyi
Director of Cultural Programs
Joseph Karolyi Foundation