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Lyds Past and Present Unite for a Cause


The late Mary Ruth Ray

First among first violinists of the Lydian String Quartet, Wilma Smith has come from halfway around the world to join with her former colleagues and successors. Born in Suva, Fiji and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, the former concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will play her 1761 Guadagnini violin here for one performance only, Sunday, March 31, at 3 p.m. in an ad hoc Lydian Octet paying tribute to the memory of Mary Ruth Ray, the beloved Brandeis faculty member and founding violist of the Lydian String Quartet who died in 2013. [Click HERE for images of the ensemble through the years]. All proceeds from the Slosberg Music Center event will benefit the Mary Ruth Ray Scholarship Fund, which supports Brandeis undergraduate instrumentalists. Adults: $20; Seniors & Brandeis Community: $15; Students: $5, available in advance at or (781) 736-3400; or at the door starting one hour prior to the performance.

The concert will open with Bach’s “Fugue” from Sonata No. 3 for Solo Violin, BWV 1005, arranged for nine violas by Mark Berger, featuring guest artists and former students of Ray. Described by music critic Conrad Wilson as “one of the miracles of nineteenth-century music,” Mendelssohn’s beloved masterpiece, String Octet, reunites current Lydian String Quartet members Andrea Segar (violin), Judith Eissenberg (violin), Mark Berger (viola) and Joshua Gordon (cello) with past members Wilma Smith (violin), Daniel Stepner (violin)and Rhonda Rider (cello), plus special guest violist Gillian Ansell of New Zealand.

Performing with “a precision and involvement marking them as among the world’s best quartets” (Chicago Sun-Times), the LSQ embraces the full range of the string quartet repertory with curiosity, virtuosity, and dedication to the highest artistic ideals of music making.

Wilma Smith, first of the firsts

Since 1980, their interpretive mastery of standard and contemporary repertoire has resulted in prizes at international competitions in Canada, France, England, and in New York (Naumburg Award for Chamber Music), and concerts throughout the United States and abroad. Their recordings reflect their diverse and far-reaching repertoire, from works by Beethoven, Brahms, Ives, and Schubert to contemporary American composers including Harbison, Hyla, and Wyner.

The LSQ has performed extensively throughout the United States at venues such as Jordan Hall in Boston; the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; Lincoln Center, Miller Theater, and Weill Recital Hall in New York City; the Pacific Rim Festival at the University of California at Santa Cruz; and the Slee Beethoven Series at the University at Buffalo. Abroad, the Quartet has made appearances in France, England, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Armenia, and most recently in Taiwan.

The Lyds’ long-term residency at Brandeis allow them to collaborate with each other and colleagues around the world, partially through their yearly concert series at the Slosberg Music Center The Quartet hosts a biennial composition prize, and is on the faculty of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

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