Belka Quartet Artists' Biography

Quartet Biography

Described in performance as “emotionally gripping” by ClevelandClassical, the Cleveland-based Belka Quartet (Beatrice Hsieh and Charles Gleason, violin / Serena Hsu, viola / Daniel Blumhard, cello) was established in Fall 2014; in January 2018, the Quartet welcomed Ms. Hsu as violist. In its first season together, the Belka Quartet won Grand Prize in the 2015 Darius Milhaud Performance Prize Competition. The Quartet has since made appearances at various venues throughout the Northeast Ohio region, including at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage as part of the Violins of Hope exhibition, and at the Canton Museum of Art, Cleveland Public Library, and Cleveland Museum of Art, among others. Outside the Cleveland area, the Quartet has collaborated in performance with Roger Tapping, Geoff Nuttall, and Andres Diaz, and held the Madeline Island Chamber Music Twin Cities Artist Residency. The Quartet was also recently named a semifinalist of the Coltman National Chamber Competition, finalist of the WDAV Young Chamber Musicians Competition (competing April 2018), and quarterfinalist of the Fischoff National Chamber Competition (May 2018).

As Apprentice Quartet in the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Intensive Quartet Seminar, the Quartet holds the Cleveland Chamber Music Society Young Artist Residency, and is closely mentored by the Cavani Quartet and Peter Salaff; the Quartet has also worked with the Takacs, Emerson, Danish, Belcea, and Casals Quartets, Amy Schwartz Moretti, Beth Oakes, Jeffrey Irvine, Joel Smirnoff, and Joan Kwuon. Outside studies include work with the Juilliard Quartet at the JSQ Seminar, which the Belka has attended twice; and Robert Mann and members of the American, Tokyo, Brentano, and Mendelssohn Quartets at the Robert Mann String Quartet Institute. Since its founding, the Belka has been awarded several fellowships for intensive study, including the Madeline Island Chamber Music Fellowship, studying with the Pacifica, Brentano, Arianna, and Dover Quartets; and the Centrum Port Townsend Chamber Music Workshop Fellowship, working with the Miro Quartet and Lucinda Carver.

Passionate about the exploration of both old and new music in concert halls and community centers alike, the Belka Quartet strives to actively engage in performances throughout the community in a variety of traditional and non-traditional settings. In the Northeast Ohio region, the Quartet is actively involved with CIM Community Programs at retirement homes and care facilities as a participating ensemble of the Sykora Outreach Fund.

All members of the Quartet are pursuing undergraduate performance degrees at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Hsu is completing her third year; as fourth-year students, Hsieh, Gleason, and Blumhard will earn Bachelor of Music diplomas this May, continuing with graduate studies at the Yale School of Music, Rice University Shepherd School of Music, and CIM, respectively.

 

Member Biographies

Violinist Beatrice Hsieh is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree with Joan Kwuon at the Cleveland Institute of Music; previously, she also studied with Joel Smirnoff. In Fall 2018, Beatrice will begin graduate studies at the Yale School of Music as a fellowship student. Beatrice has soloed with over a dozen orchestras across the United States, and is a prizewinner of various competitions, including the Fischoff Competition and YoungArts. She has performed at venues both in the United States and abroad, including Carnegie Hall, Severance Hall, the Kennedy Center, Royal Albert Hall (BBC Proms), the Kimmel Center, and the Mariinsky II Theatre. She has appeared on Cleveland’s WCLV, Spokane Public Radio, and NPR’s “From the Top,” among others, and held artist residencies in Minneapolis/St. Paul and Cleveland. This past season, she appeared with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony and the CIM Orchestra as winner of their respective competitions, won the Tuesday Musical Association Performance Scholarship Competition, and performed in master classes for James Ehnes, Ilya Kaler, and the Danish, Emerson, and Takacs Quartets, among others. Upcoming highlights include performances with the CIM New Music Ensemble and a solo appearance with the Case Western Reserve University/CIM Baroque Orchestra, in which she has served as Concertmaster on baroque violin.

At CIM, Beatrice has participated in both the Intensive Quartet and Intensive Duo Seminars as a founder of the Belka Quartet and the Hsieh Duo, respectively; the Belka Quartet currently serves as the CIM Apprentice Quartet, holding a Young Artist Residency with the Cleveland Chamber Music Society for the 2017-18 season. Beatrice has also served as Concertmaster and Principal Second of the CIM Orchestra, and was recently Associate Principal Second of the 2017 New York String Orchestra Seminar. As an avid chamber musician, she has attended various fellowship and intensive programs, including Kneisel Hall Chamber Music, to which she will return for a second summer; Madeline Island Chamber Music String Quartet Fellowship; Robert Mann SQ Institute; Juilliard SQ Seminar; Centrum Port Townsend Chamber Workshop; Cambridge International String Academy; and NYO-USA. In Fall 2017, she was also featured as Rising Artist of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival.

Beatrice plays on a violin on generous loan from the Chi Mei Cultural Foundation.

 

Charles Gleason is a 22-year-old violinist from Columbus, Ohio. He has studied extensively with Stephen Sims and Columbus-based jazz violinist Christian Howes. He was a long-time participant in the Chamber Music Connection in Worthington, Ohio under the direction of Deborah Price and was a member of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra under conductor Peter Stafford Wilson, where he served as concertmaster for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons. He has performed in masterclasses for Vadim Gluzman and James Ehnes, and performed in chamber ensembles at the Schubert Club, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and at the Tivoli Theatre in Chatanooga, Tennessee as part of the From the Top radio series. Charles began attending the Cleveland Institute of Music in the fall of 2014 with teacher David Updegraff. Now in his senior year, he currently studies with Joan Kwuon and is coached in chamber music by Peter Salaff and the members of the Cavani Quartet.

 

Violist Serena Hsu is a junior at The Cleveland Institute of Music studying with Jeffrey Irvine. She is an alumna of the Chamber Music Connection in Worthington, Ohio where she was a fellowship student. As a member of CMC, her ensembles won 2nd Place in the OSTA Chamber Music Competition, advanced to the quarterfinals of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, performed on NPR’s From the Top, and won Silver Medal at the 2015 Saint Paul String Quartet Competition. She was a 2015 YoungArts Merit Winner. Her ensembles at CIM have participated in the McGill International String Quartet Academy and the Intensive Quartet Seminar. Serena additionally won First Prize and the Bach Prize at the Ohio Viola Society Solo Competition in 2015, Honorable Mention in 2016, and First Prize in 2017. She was a finalist at the 2016 American Viola Society Competition and a semi-finalist of the 2017 Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition. Serena has attended Music@Menlo Chamber Music Institute, the Summer Music Institute Young Artists Program, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, and the Fontainebleau School. In Fall 2017, she studied abroad at the Paris Conservatoire with Jean Sulem. This summer, she will attend Kneisel Hall Chamber Music as a Young Artist Fellow.

 

Cellist Daniel Blumhard is a senior currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music under the tutelage of Dr. Melissa Kraut. Blumhard is an alumnus of the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan, where he studied for three years with Crispin Campbell and graduated with honors. While in attendance at IAA, Blumhard performed at such venues as Orchestra Hall in Detroit, the Symphony Center in Chicago, Constitution Hall in Washington, and Alice Tully Hall in New York. Blumhard was one of a select few musicians at IAA chosen to perform with the world-renowned Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as part of a cross-disciplinary production revolving around Arnold Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night. As a passionate chamber musician, Blumhard was a member of the Mazel Trio and received the Silver Medal in the Junior Division of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2013. As the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Apprentice Quartet for 2018, Daniel Blumhard and the Belka Quartet work and study with numerous pillars of the chamber music community, including Peter Salaff of the Cleveland Quartet as well as the Cavani Quartet in the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Intensive Quartet Seminar program. As part of the Belka Quartet, Blumhard has also performed alongside prominent chamber musicians Andres Diaz, Geoff Nuttall of the St. Lawrence Quartet, and Roger Tapping of the Juilliard Quartet, in addition to studying with members of the Brentano, Pacifica, Dover, Mendelssohn, Tokyo, Juilliard, and American String Quartets. Daniel Blumhard has performed in master class for eminent cellists Paul Watkins, Anthony Ross, and Amir Eldan. Previous teachers include former Principal Cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra Stephen Geber as well as David Diehl and Jesus Morales. When not performing or studying, Daniel enjoys reading classic literature, hiking in the woods, playing Super Smash Bros Melee, and brewing a fresh cup of coffee.

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