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Classical, Baroque, and Cross-Over Music Can Be Heard at Princeton Festival Chamber Concerts this June

originally published: 05/31/2024

Classical, Baroque, and Cross-Over Music Can Be Heard at Princeton Festival Chamber Concerts this June

Abeo Quartet, photo by Titilayo Ayangade

(PRINCETON, NJ) -- Chamber music abounds at the June 2024 Princeton Festival with music to suit a variety of tastes performed by the Abeo Quartet and The Sebastians at Trinity Church, and Empire Wild in the Festival’s performance pavilion at Morven Museum & Garden.

Abeo Quartet performs favorites of the string quartet repertoire on Thursday, June 13 at 7:00pm. In its debut Princeton Festival performance, the quartet presents Reena Esmail’s String Quartet “Ragamala,” Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 122, and Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor, "Death and the Maiden."

Formed at Juilliard in 2018, the Abeo Quartet was the inaugural Graduate String Quartet in Residence at the University of Delaware under the mentorship of the Calidore String Quartet. Recent accomplishments include Third Prize at the 2023 Bad Tölz International String Quartet Competition, First Prize and Audience Favorite Prize in the Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition, and the silver medal at the 2019 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. The quartet’s current members are Njioma Grevious, violin, Rebecca Benjamin, violin, James Kang, viola, and Macintyre Taback, cello. This season’s highlights include a return performance at the Kennedy Center and an exciting yearlong residency as the Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. Abeo (ah - bey - oh), an expression of joy in a Nigerian dialect, reflects the group’s love for playing and sharing music with others.

Classical, Baroque, and Cross-Over Music Can Be Heard at Princeton Festival Chamber Concerts this June

The Sebastians at Trinity Church, 2023 Princeton Festival. Photo credit: Staff Photo 

Also at Trinity Church, on Thursday, June 20 at 7:00pm, acclaimed baroque ensemble The Sebastians mark their third appearance at the Festival with performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Nos. 3, 5, and 6, on a program with Georg Philipp Telemann’s Concerto in A Major for Flute, Violin, and Cello, and Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor for Two Cellos.

The Sebastians are a dynamic and vital musical ensemble specializing in music of the baroque and classical eras. Lauded as “everywhere sharp-edged and engaging” (The New York Times), the Sebastians have also been praised for their “well-thought-out articulation and phrasing” (Early Music Review) and “elegant string playing… immaculate in tuning and balance” (Early Music Today). Their 2018 unconducted St. Matthew Passion with TENET Vocal Arts was called “shattering” and “a performance of uncommon naturalness and transparency” (The New York Times)Recent seasons have included dozens of originally conceived programs, including collaborations with poets, choreographers, and actors, a musical installation in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, programs dealing with musical “immigration” and nationalism, and major works of J.S. Bach led from the keyboard. The Sebastians are currently in residence at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments.

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Classical, Baroque, and Cross-Over Music Can Be Heard at Princeton Festival Chamber Concerts this June

Empire Wild, photo by Titilayo Ayangade

On Friday, June 21 at 7:00pm, the Princeton Festival presents Empire Wild, a genre-bending, Juilliard-trained classical crossover trio featuring two cellos, piano, and vocals. The trio brings its signature mix of original music, inventive covers, and twists on the classical canon. Fans of last year’s electric Time For Three performance are sure to enjoy this fresh ensemble as they take over the main stage in the Festival’s performance pavilion at Morven Museum & Garden.

Empire Wild is a genre-bending crossover trio featuring Juilliard-trained classical musicians embodying the group’s shared love of musical exploration, fusing the sounds of pop, folk, Broadway, and more into their songwriting and composition. Its members are cellists Ken Kubota and Mitch Lyon, and pianist Ji-Yong Kim. Empire Wild was selected as an Ambassador Prize winner in the 2020 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. The group’s debut EP Paper Seasons features all original songs, highlighting the trio’s unique sound and instrumentation. Recently, the trio delighted audiences with its famous original songwriting and unique arrangements at venues across the country, including a stop at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, a concert on the Harriman-Jewell Series in Kansas City, and a day at the Kaufman Music Center’s Musical Storefronts in Lincoln Center. In fall 2023, the trio embarked on a tour of the Midwest with over twenty performances across ten states along with educational workshops in Iowa and Ohio.

Tickets are available now for all 2024 Princeton Festival events at Morven Museum & Garden and nearby Trinity Church, ranging from $10 - $150, at or 609-497-0020; youths, ages 5-17, receive a 50% discount.

The Princeton Festival is the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s flagship summer program showcasing the performing arts. Founded in 2004, the Princeton Festival quickly established a reputation for artistic excellence and innovative programming. Every year in June, thousands of people from the mid-Atlantic region and beyond come to the Festival to enjoy the quality and variety of its programs. Offerings include opera, musical theater, dance, orchestra and chamber music, and a constantly evolving selection of other genres, including jazz, world music, choral concerts, and country music. The Festival has long-standing partnerships with public libraries and local churches, and promotes life-long learning in the arts through free educational lectures presented to a wide and diverse community. 

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