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The Škampa String Quartet will perform with violist Scott St. John as part of the Chamber Music Concerts Series.

Rogue Valley audiences will have two opportunites to hear the Škampa String Quartet with violist Scott St John. Chamber Music Concerts will present the award-winning musicians in concert at 8 p.m. Friday, March 30, and at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 31, in the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

The program for the evening concert on March 30 will include Joseph Haydn's Quartet for Strings in D Major, Op. 76 no. 5; Dmitri Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 3 in F Major, Op. 73; and Antonín Dvorák's Quintet for Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 97.

The March 31 matinee will feature František Richter's Divertimento in C Major for String Quartet, Op. 5 no. 1; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Viola Quintet in C Major, K. 515; Bedrich Smetana's String Quartet No. 2 in D Minor.

CMC is offering two perks for audience members who attend the March 31 matinee: an informal post-concert discussion and a special discount at several of Ashland's fine restaurants. The post-concert discussion will be led by Ilana Rubenfeld immediately after the matinee concert in the second-floor Choir Room.

CMC's restaurant promotion provides 10 percent off the menu price for dinner after the matinee concert (must present ticket stub) at participating Ashland restaurants: Alex's Plaza Restaurant, Chateaulin Restaurant, Cucina Biazzi, Larks Restaurant, Monet Restaurant/Garden, Winchester Inn/Restaurant, and Zingaro Restaurant.

The Škampa Quartet was founded in 1989 at the Prague Academy of Music under the guidance of Antonin Kohout and Milan Škampa of the Smetana Quartet. They won the Best Quartet prize at the Premio Vittorio Gui competition in Florence in 1990. The following year the quartet won first prize in the Charles Hennen competition in the Netherlands, and in 1992 the group received a special prize from the Czech Chamber Music Society.

The quartet made its debut at London's Wigmore Hall in February 1993, for which it received the Royal Philharmonic Society's "Best Debut 1993" award. Subsequently the quartet was appointed as the first-ever Quartet in Residence of the Wigmore Hall.

The ensemble has performed throughout Europe, Japan, Australia and North America, the Quartet has performed in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto and other cities as well as New York's Lincoln Center, 92nd Street Y, and Carnegie Hall where they gave the American premiere of Peter Eben's String Quartet.

In 1998, the Škampa Quartet's debut performance for NPR's St. Paul Sunday aired across the nation. Since then the quartet has returned to the United States nearly every season.

Scott St. John is known for his riveting and virtuosic performances on violin and viola. He has been praised for his "electric" performances and recitals "brimming with extroverted spirit." As the Pittsburgh Press has noted, "he is a musician of impeccable taste and natural instincts. He lets the music do the talking." Additional recognition for his skill and insight came in spring 2003, when he was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Scott St. John has appeared with a number of orchestras. His many awards include the 1989 Young Concert Artists, the 1994 Virginia D. Moore Award for Most Promising Young Canadian Artist, Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award, First Prize in the 1987 Alexander Schneider Violin and Viola Competition and a top prize in the 1992 Munich International Violin Competition.

The Škampa Quartet will also present two education programs. At 1 p.m. Friday, March 30, at SOU's Music Recital Hall, the quartet will present a lecture/performance for Southern Oregon Learning in Retirement members and guests.

From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 31, also at the SOU Recital Hall, the quartet will coach area string players. This program is an opportunity to see world-class artists work with talented young musicians in the Rogue Valley. All are welcome.

Tickets for the concert are $26/$30, and $5 for students. See www.sou.edu/cmc or call 552-6154.

The Škampa String Quartet will perform with violist Scott St. John as part of the Chamber Music Concerts Series. - Chamber Music Concerts