Music Haven and Southern create partnership
RYAN FLYNN — General Assignment Reporter
Music Haven, the resident string quartet in New Haven, has now also become a resident of SCSU.
Their partnership with Southern will encompass a few concert performances and lectures in this and the coming semesters, as well as some hands-on work with classes, particularly freshman Inquiry classes.
There they will talk about music and its impact on society and learning, according to Donna Jean Fredeen, dean of Arts and Sciences.
Fredeen said that the idea to partner with Music Haven first came about when Stanley Battle, former interim president at SCSU, saw the group in concert.
“He was very impressed with the group and what they were doing,” Fredeen said. “In particular with the outreach to the area’s school children and [he] wanted to work with them and provide an opportunity for them to be here on campus and work with our students, and provide a type of music that our students are not quite familiar with.”
Music Haven is led by Tina Lee Hadari, a violinist who earned her master’s degree at Yale School of Music and doctorate at the University of Colorado before founding the quartet.
“Music Haven is a professional string quartet that teaches and believes in social justice, first of all,” Hadari said. “So, the way that it translates into our work is that we perform and we teach in the four most underserved neighborhoods of New Haven. We really believe in equality and access. We teach after-school programming that is completely tuition-free for youth in these four neighborhoods. But we also perform a lot in the community and we try to find the news and find places where music is not available or arts programming is not available. That’s kind of Music Haven in a nutshell.”
Hadari said she drew her inspiration for creating the group from a man named Bill Strickland who runs a non-profit organization called Manchester Craftsman’s Guild in Pittsburgh, PA. Strickland, a successful businessman, returned to the poverty-stricken neighborhood of his youth and set up a transparent window right in the heart of this area, where painters and potters and the like could practice their craft in plain sight.
Hadari spoke to this idea of creating hope in a hopeless place and also of the notion that “equality and democracy don’t have to be exclusive.”
Colin Benn, the resident violist, can relate to this program, having seen things from the opposite perspective. Prior to attending college at Juilliard, Benn joined one of the first string scholarship programs in his native Boston when he was then just 11-years-old.
“It sort of feels like coming back full circle,” he said. “To be able to give back to street kids through a string scholarship program the same opportunities that I received.”
The two remaining members of the quartet, violinist Yaira Matyakubova and cellist Matt Beckman both grew up in musical families and have been playing their respective instruments since early childhood.
Beckman discussed why he became interested in joining Music Haven.
“It’s such an eclectic and different-you know, such a different mix of things outside of the realm of what a classical musician typically does on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “I mean, we have an opportunity with the string quartet and with our lessons program to see the power of music and to harness that power and see how it can affect the community. How it can create a community and bring people together.”
The group will hold their first lecture and concert on Jan. 24, in Garner Recital Hall at 7 p.m.
Over the course of the next few semesters and possibly beyond, Music Haven looks to share their unique model for combining music and ideas for social justice and public service with the Southern community, Hadari said.
“Setting this residency at SCSU is one of the first of its kind,” she said, “and we feel like it’s a really great opportunity for students to learn more about ways to combine the arts.”