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FLYING HIGH: AHS alum violinist, string quartet win NEC competition

Highland Street Quartet: Mira Williams, viola; Sophie Applbaum, cello; Greta Myatieva, violin; and Victoria Pan, violin. / Photo by Nile ScottPhoto by Nile Scott

UPDATED, May 8: Highland Street, a string quartet that includes violinist Greta Myatieva (Arlington High School class of 2015), is among the winners of the New England Conservatory (NEC) Honors Ensemble Competition. The prize, in addition to a monetary award, photo shoot and several concert dates, is a recital at Jordan Hall, to take place Thursday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m.

"I'm excited to be appearing again at this historic venue. The last time I played there, with a different group, was at the NEC Gala in February, but we performed just one piece since there were other musicians on the program," noted Myatieva, now a junior at NEC.   On May 10 Highland Street will offer a full evening of music.

Members of Highland Street, an all-female quartet, are, from left in photo, Mira Williams, viola; Sophie Applbaum, cello; Myatieva, violin; and Victoria Pan, violin.

Their coach is NEC faculty member Paul Biss, who is also Myatieva's private teacher. 

Varied offerings

On the program will be the Haydn "Quinten Quartet," Op. 76, No. 2; Janáček's "Kreutzer Sonata"; Brahms, String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor; and "Needless to Say" by Ari Sussman. The repertoire hits several "historical landmarks," Myatieva noted, adding, "A Haydn piece was a requirement for the competition because it exposes your technique and group sound. The Janáček is post-Romantic and has a lot of dissonance; the Brahms is Romantic, and the final piece, written by a student composer, is contemporary." 

Having known each other when they were younger, Myatieva, Pan and Williams reconnected during their freshman year at NEC and now room together. "We're of different races and characters," Myatieva said, "but we really mesh well. We compartmentalize and don't carry our rehearsals into the rest of our lives. If we have interpretive disagreements, we try a different way and make decisions collectively to achieve the best sound we can." 

A new cellist

Although the quartet has existed since 2015, it has had to change cellists twice. "Our new cellist is a Harvard-NEC student," Myatieva said, "and she's working out great." In addition to frequent rehearsals, Highland Street has a coaching session every week with Biss. "He gives us perspectives we wouldn’t have otherwise," Myatieva said, "and ultimately, the music gets better."

Following a small tour of Cape Cod in collaboration with the Public Radio and TV show "From the Top," the group will be in residence at the Music in the Vineyards Chamber Music Festival in Napa Valley this summer. With travel expenses in their future, Myatieva said, the NEC prize money will be put to good use.

Music for all

Like the other Highland Street members, Myatieva is involved in community outreach, and as she puts it, "global justice." As part of that commitment, she teaches in the orchestra program at Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Boston and the Open Access to Music Education for Children program in Hyde Park, which serves Haitian refugees.   

   Where: Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St., Boston
   When: May 10, 7:30 p.m.
In March, she returned to Arlington High School (AHS) to play in the pit orchestra of the Gilbert and Sullivan Club production of Wonderful Town. "I enjoy musicals," she noted, "and otherwise I don't get to play that kind of music very often. It was fun to be back."

At AHS she was one of 23 musicians in the pit; at Jordan Hall on May 10, she'll be one of four onstage. For Myatieva, the prospect is both exhilarating and a bit daunting. "This is entirely our event," she said; "we're in charge of it, and it will be our night, so we’re hoping for a good turnout."

This news feature by YourArlington freelancer Carla DeFord was published Monday, April 16, 2018, and updated April 19, to adjust copy.

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