Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet

The Parker Quartet will perform Feb. 8 at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.

The Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet will take the stage Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Founded in 2002, the Parker Quartet has appeared throughout the U.S. and Europe, including appearances at Carnegie Hall, Library of Congress, and the Lincoln Center in New York. The quartet won a Grammy in 2011 for Best Chamber Music Performance, the last string quartet to win in that category, and is now in its sixth year as Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music.

The program in Livermore will open with Haydn’s Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 33, No. 2, nicknamed “The Joke,” in which (spoiler alert) the composer plays whimsically with the audience’s expectations.

That will be followed by Beethoven’s Quartet in A minor, Op. 132, written 40 years after Haydn’s “Joke,” which left audiences more bewildered than amused. Beethoven had entered a new aesthetic realm, experimenting radically with 18th century forms. With profound contrasts of feeling and musical texture, the heart of the quartet is the “Heiliger Dankgesang,” Beethoven’s expression of thanks for his recovery from serious illness.

The Parker Quartet has also chosen to perform Polish composer Karol Szymanowski’s String Quartet No. 2, Op 56, written in 1927, a century after Beethoven’s death.

Szymanowski is not a well-known name to many concert goers, but he is considered one of the foremost Polish composers. “We are drawn to his music not only for its incredibly sensitive and unique beauty, but also for the fire and boldness that often contrasts his lyrical style,” explained Parker Quartet violinist Daniel Chong.

Szymanowski’s 2nd string quartet is considered one of his boldest compositions. Chong notes, “Although it carries a strong modernist slant, the structures themselves are classical: a hauntingly gorgeous first movement, a blistering scherzo in the middle, and an ambitious double fugue in the final movement.”

The quartet has pledged to keeping the string quartet repertoire relevant for audiences of all ages, and the day before their Bankhead Theater performance, they will be playing for students at Livermore High School and East Avenue Middle School.

Free youth tickets and reduced college rush tickets are available for Saturday’s concert. Regular ticket prices start at $32. Tickets are available at lvpac.org; the Bankhead Theater box office, 2400 First St.; or by calling (925) 373-6800.