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Publication Date

Fall 11-7-2008

Year of Release



Štĕpán Graffe, Lukáš Bednařik, violin

Lukáš Cybulski, viola

Michal Hreno, violoncello

Michiko Otaki, piano

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The Graffe String Quartet, ranking today among the best Czech quartets of the younger generation, was founded in 1997. Already during the studies of its members at the Brno Conservatory and at the Music Faculty of the Janaček Academy of Performing Arts, they won several prizes from international competitions (International Interpretational Competition Beethovenuv Hradec, Czech Republic, 1999; International Chamber Ensemble Competition ACT, London, 2003; International Competition, Verfernte Musik, Schwerin, Germany, 2005). For their performance of Leos Janacek's quartets, they have been twice rewarded by the Leos Janacek Foundation Prize (2001, 2003). In 2005, they were honored by a special prize from the French association Forum Voix Etouffés. Since the academic studies of the Graffe Quartet members, their artistic growth has been supported e.g. by Prof. Adolf Sykora (The Janacek Quartet) and, recently, also by Prof. Jerry Homer (the famous Fine Arts Quartet, USA). The quartet participated repeatedly in several International chamber music courses, where they had an opportunity to be tutored by such distinguished artists as Guenter Pichler (Alban Berg Quartett, Vienna), Norbert Brainin and Siegmund Nissel (Amadeus Quartet, London), Lészló Mezö (Bartók Quartet, Budapest), Milan Skampa (Smetanovo kvarteto, Prague) and others. The Graffe Quartet appeared at hundreds of concerts in their homeland, in many European countries and in the USA. The ensemble's recordings have been obtained by several broadcasting companies in Europe and America. At their concerts the ensemble has performed the classical quartet repertoire as well as many world premieres of contemporary Czech and world composers (e.g. M. Štédroň, M. Slimáček, W. Schulze, H. Neumann, Páll P. Pálsson etc.).

An especially noted chamber musician, pianist Michiko Otaki has performed and recorded with such renowned international ensembles as the Graffe String Quartet (on its debut American tour, as well as in Europe), Kodály String Quartet, Swiss Wind Quintet (with whom she tours the U.S. again later this season), and Martinç String Quartet, as well as with English violist Roger Chase.

Her unique association with the Warsaw Wind Quintet included numerous extensive tours of the U.S. and Europe, internationally heard broadcasts (including Performance Today), and two critically acclaimed CD recordings, one of which received the ”Polish Grammy" as "Best Chamber Music Recording." She also made the world premiere recording of the seldom-heard Sextet of Hans Huber with the Swiss Wind Quintet.

Born in Japan, Michiko Otaki studied at the San Francisco Conservatory (B.M.), Manhattan School of Music (M.M.), and the University of Miami (D.M.A.). She is Director of Keyboard Studies at Clayton State University in Atlanta.

Michiko Otaki has performed at major venues throughout the U.S. and abroad including Washington's National Gallery, Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, Cleveland's Museum of Art, the Chamber Music Hall of the Warsaw Philharmonic, and often at Atlanta's Spivey Hall. Her artistry has been featured at Festival Miami, the Da Camera Society of Los Angeles, the Chicago Chamber Music Society, BIG Arts, and many other major chamber music series.

Ms. Otaki has also recorded and toured with the Slovak Sinfonietta, Brno Chamber Orchestra, Bohemian Chamber Philharmonic, Brno Chamber Soloists, and the Pilsen Philharmonic.

Her latest recording with violist Roger Chase of music by Benjamin Dale is available on the Dutton Epoch label; her first solo recording of Kabalevsky' s seldom played Preludes and Fugues for ACA Digital will be available again early next year from iTunes and other major outlets


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Marshall University Music Department Presents, Music Alive Series, Graffe String Quartet, Štĕpán Graffe, violin, Lukáš Bednařik, violin, Lukáš Cybulski, viola, Michal Hreno, violoncello, with, Michiko Otaki, piano