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A violinist and conductor, Dino comes from a musically prominent family in northeastern Pennsylvania. He began studying the violin at age seven with his father, a noted conductor and teacher. This arrangement is unusual and most often fails since the formal relationship required between teacher and student is often broken by the familiarity of father and son. But in this case, Dino and his father created a working rapport that, though tenuous at times, was ultimately productive. Dino continued his education at the Peabody Conservatory with Berl Senofsky. After graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree, he studied with Christine Dethier in New York and then attended Temple University, working with Luis Biava, where he graduated with a Master's degree and a Professional Studies Certificate. He then spent four years as Assistant Professor of violin and chamber music at Wilkes University and as conductor of the University Orchestra.
In 1991, Dino became one of the founding members of the DaPonte String Quartet and he moved full-time to Maine in 1996. Chamber music has remained his passion since those first rehearsals at the home of cellist Myles Jordan. The DSQ's performances and workshops have been praised by members of the press and the quartet has worked with many important contemporary musicians, including Marc Johnson, Anton Kuerti, Pamela Mia-Paul, Rami Solomonov, Tom Hill, Mark Simons, Jon Klibonoff, Maria Bachmann, Randall Hodgkinson, and Marcus Thompson. Dino also continued to conduct and teach when he moved to Maine, enriching the lives of young musicians throughout the Midcoast. He has conducted the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra and University Orchestra. He currently teaches a private studio of students, conducts the Sea Coast Youth Orchestra, the Portland Youth Junior Orchestra, and the Sea Coast Community Orchestra. He also teaches violin as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern Maine. To all this is added his own attempts to teach his son violin, as his wife, Gia, conducts some sporadic piano lessons. The cycle begins again.
Lydia's career has been guided by a singular intention — to delve as deeply as possible into the magic of great chamber music literature, old and new.
Lydia has concertized throughout Europe and the U.K. with Ensemble L'Archibudelli, Zephyr Kwartet, Het Schoenberg Ensemble, Sinfonietta Amsterdam, Het Blazers Ensemble, Osiris Piano Trio, I Fiamminghi, and Ensemble Explorations. During this time, she recorded with some of the world's most prominent labels; Sony Classical, Harmonia Mundi, CNM, and for Vienna Modern Masters as soloist with the Czech Radio Philharmonic. She has also performed for festivals in Europe, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. Lydia has also served as concertmaster for Het Orkest van het Oosten in the Netherlands.
Lydia was drawn to the DaPonte String Quartet by their love and respect for the work. She lives in Alna, Maine with cellist Myles Jordan and their children.
Myles Jordan worked as a child actor for CBC Television and the National Film Board of Canada before taking up the cello. Inspired by the North American premiere of the second Shostakovich cello concerto and a Casals master class, Myles asked for and received from his father a bright orange Hofner cello as a birthday present. He went on to train at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta, the Britten-Pears School of Advanced Musical Studies in England, and at Schloss Weikersheim in Germany. In 1981, he won a Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation Award, which enabled him to study at the Juilliard School, and by 1983 he had earned two degrees there. From New York he moved to Philadelphia, where he served as associate principal cellist of the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra, completed a Doctor of Musical Arts, and founded the DaPonte String Quartet.
Myles uses historical research to inform his musical performances so he can remain as faithful as possible to the composer's original intentions. His Bach cello suites recording, available worldwide on the Centaur label, is the first to dispense with Pablo Casals's interpretive model in favor of a conception based strictly on sources close to Bach, such as Johann Mattheson's 1739 treatise Der vollkommene Capellmeister and written testimonies from Bach's students. This recording drew a rave review from James Mannheim in the All Music Guide and Laurence Vittes, in Gramophone Magazine, described it as "astonishing." Vittes lauds Myles's break from the Casals model, indicating how his approach produces "a completely new spectrum" of interpretation that comes closer to Bach's original conception than previous recorded performances.
Myles has delivered lectures on early music performance practice at both the University of North Texas Graduate School Early Music Division and the Boston Early Music Festival. He also plays and teaches the Baroque violoncello piccolo.
A native of Brunswick, Maine, Kirsten Monke began lessons on the viola at age eight when her music teacher suggested the viola over the violin because Kirsten had the biggest hands in her orchestra class. Though her initial focus on this instrument may have been practical, the voice of the viola is what has inspired and nurtured Kirsten's lifelong interest in music.
She received both her Masters and Bachelors degrees at Indiana University, where she worked with Kim Kashkashian and Georges Janzer (of the Vegh Quartet and Grumiaux Trio). As a graduate fellow at UC Santa Barbara, where she studied with Heiichiro Ohyama, she was a founding member of the Anacapa String Quartet, winners of the Fischoff competition as well as recipients of various honors from Chamber Music America. Following ten years of touring and concertizing with the ASQ, Kirsten remained in Santa Barbara, serving as Principal Violist of both the Santa Barbara Symphony and the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra. She also taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Westmont College, and at chamber music workshops across the country. Kirsten can be heard in recordings with the Anacapa Quartet and the Santa Barbara Symphony, as a soloist on a jazz CD featuring the music of Earl Stewart, and as a member of the Gove County String Quartet, a group that performs all original music.
Kirsten joined the DaPonte String Quartet in 2008, a serendipitous occurrence that brought her back to her beloved home state. She has recently joined the faculty of Rockport's Bay Chamber Community Music School, where she teaches violin and viola and coaches chamber music. She also maintains a small private studio in the Brunswick area. She is currently studying Middle Eastern music. Though she enjoys a wide variety of music-making experiences, Kirsten is happiest when involved in the intimacies of chamber music.
Not long after forming in Philadelphia 27 years ago, the DaPonte String Quartet surprised the musical world by moving from a cosmopolitan urban area to rural Maine. The DSQ had been — and continues to be — sought after to perform and teach all over the U.S. and around the world. They have appeared in France, Scotland, Canada, and more than twenty American states. Their performances have been broadcast over nation-wide radio and television programs in both the United States and Canada. They have received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Philadelphia Musical Fund Society, the Music Teachers National Association, Chamber Music America, and have participated in several of the nation's most prestigious concert series to rave reviews. Musicians and critics alike wondered, why would the DSQ move to Maine, where, as the New York Times noted, they create an experience "like watching the Celtics play in the local gym."
But the members of the DaPonte String Quartet were proud to call Maine home, and their relationship with mid-coast Maine remains a deeply rooted one. When CBS Sunday Morning nationally televised a profile of the group, the idea of living outside a major urban center suddenly appeared to be an appealing alternative lifestyle few musicians had considered. Few string quartets can boast such a devoted following. The people of Maine warmly embraced the DSQ, which has become an integral part of the state's musical life. When the Quartet debuted at Carnegie Hall, a large contingent of their fans traveled to New York to hear and cheer them there. The Times wrote in amazement: "Let it not be said that the DaPonte String Quartet enters New York musical life without friends. Weill Hall was packed!" The state's embrace of the DSQ has also taken the form of awards from the Maine Arts Commission.
This support enables the DSQ to perform a wide-ranging and varied repertoire. While many classical musicians struggling with the realities of the contemporary musical marketplace find themselves performing exclusively new compositions, the Quartet's repertoire spans the entire history of music, from seventeenth-century works on original instruments to cutting-edge contemporary quartets, like the one written for them by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici. The DSQ is also known for their inventive interpretations of the works they play. The Boston Globe observed that whatever music they present — be it Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, or Post-Modern — the freshness of the DSQ's performances make these works appear novel and contemporary: "Once again, the music could have been hot off the presses." Their performances affirm chamber music as a vital and alive art form.
Fresh conception requires original thought, and the DSQ's is based on solid research, extensive scholarship, and meticulous preparation. Strings Magazine recently remarked on the inclusion of British composer Thomas Ades's quartet Arcadiana in the DSQ's repertoire, noting that few groups would find themselves able to invest the hundreds of hours of preparation required for music of such complexity. This sort of groundwork gives their performances authority, but an authority that isn't stiff or aloof. Their concerts are dynamic and their stage manner — with one another and with their audiences — is warm and conversational. The Quartet members regularly share musical insights with their audiences before playing and these "spoken program notes" enable the listener to enter into a deeper connection with the music.
The DaPonte String Quartet is now in season 28 and its members are still proud to call Maine home.
The quartet's dedication to developing a love of music in young people is expressed through many In-School performances in Maine and on tour. In 2003, the quartet premiered a work commissioned from Gia Comolli called "String Play" that highlights the techniques and the special effects that string instruments produce while playing music. It is a charming piece, wonderful music in its own right, with narration and materials that can be tailored to various age levels. The quartet has played "String Play" often, in Maine and elsewhere. Last year, when they played it in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the concert presenter wrote saying, "Thank you so much for sending your wonderful quartet to Tuscaloosa . . . .They played a fabulous concert . . . and presented the best program to children I have ever seen."
They were invited back to Tuscaloosa and also to Huntsville, AL for more of the same, and in Maine, the DSQ did numerous in-school presentations, underwritten by the Falcon Foundation and The Science Source. In addition, the DaPonte regularly presents an intensive workshop for Maine's promising young string players offered without charge through an endowment from the Kennedy Learning Center in Nobleboro.
The quartet members are dedicated teachers. Whether working with the finest young professional musicians through their residency at the University of Northern Texas, with Maine high school musicians, with grade-school children at in-school performances, or with the Seacoast Youth and Community Orchestras, the quartet always gives each emerging musician its very best.