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March 19, 2024

Laura Griffiths, Oboe; Ani Bukujian, Violin; Elizabeth Prior, Viola; Krisanthy Desby, Cello

Johann Christian Bach:  Quartet in B Major

Vincent Russo: Visions of Joan of Arc

Edward Elgar: Quartet for Solo Oboe and String Trio

Neal Desby: Passacaglia and Fugue in the Time of Covid

Franz Josef Haydn:  String Trio, Hob. XVI

Gordon Jacob:   Quartet for Oboe and Strings

Strobe is an award-winning oboe quartet, receiving grants from the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, InterMusicSF, and most recently, Chamber Music America, for a new work by UCLA-based composer Kay Rhie. Formed in 2016, Strobe’s mission is to expand the oboe repertoire, violin, viola, and cello. They have commissioned four composers to write music for the oboe quartet and performed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. A new recording with commissioned works is forthcoming.

Laura Griffiths is Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and Professor of Oboe at San Jose State University. In demand as an orchestral musician, she has been Principal Oboe of the Cleveland Orchestra and the Rochester Philharmonic and Acting Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Opera. She has also served as guest Principal Oboe with several orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Boston Symphony. She is active as a chamber musician with Strobe and other ensembles during the year, summers at the Midsummer Mozart Festival, Music in the Mountains, and the Britt Festival. Her previous teaching posts include the Eastman School of Music and Oberlin Conservatory.

Ani Bukujian is the Principal Second Violin of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and Concertmaster of the Marin Symphony. She was born into a musical family in Los Angeles, beginning the violin at age two and a half, making her solo debut at seven. She has won numerous awards, including three gold medals at the World Championship of Performing Arts. She was the first-place winner at the J S Bach Competition, ASTA Annual National Solo Competition, and Pasadena String Festival.

She received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from The Juilliard School and studied with San Francisco Symphony Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center, and participated in the Bowdoin Music Festival, the Miami Summer Music Festival, the Fontainebleau Festival in France, and the Samos Young Artists Festival in Greece.

Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782)

Johann Christian Bach was the youngest of Bach’s eleven sons, born when his father Johann Sebastian Bach was 50 years old.  He was taught by his father and his half-brother Carl Phillipp Emanuel.  After his father’s death, he studied in Italy, then moved to London where he took the name John and was known as the English Bach.  He became music master to Queen Charlotte and enjoyed a successful career playing at concert venues and in the homes of well-to-do Londoners in Mayfair.  J.C. Bach influenced both Mozart and Haydn and helped establish copyright laws for musical scores.  The Oboe Quartet was published in 1776.

Vincent Russo

Vincent Russo is a lecturer on the music faculty at San Jose State University.  He composes for film and television and works as a conductor, orchestrator, and arranger. His work, Joan of Arc, is part of Visions and Visitations, which won a grant from the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  In this piece, Russo traces the life of Joan of Arc, whose visions of the Archangel Michael spur her to lead an army to restore Charles VII to the French throne.

Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Elgar is best known for his large orchestral works such as the Enigma Variations, Pomp and Circumstance, and the Cello Concerto.  The oboe quartet was found at the British Library, in a folio of arrangements and drafts; the words “Xmas Music” were handwritten on the oboe part.  It was most likely written in 1878 for a performance at the Worcester Glee Club.

Neal Desby

Neal Desby is a composer, conductor, and arranger in Los Angeles, where he is a Professor of Composition, Theory, and Analysis at the University of Southern California.  He works with musicians in both the classical and non-classical worlds and the film and commercial music industries.  Strobe has performed his other pieces for the oboe quartet, Musings, and Golden Gate Rag.  Passacaglia and Fugue in the Time of Covid was written as a reflection during the worldwide lockdown in 2020.

Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809)

Haydn was a prolific composer of symphonies, string quartets, and concerti.  While employed by the Esterházy court, he wrote three piano sonatas for a new bride in the court, Princess Maria.  The string trios were arranged from these sonatas, most likely by Haydn, and published in 1790.

Gordon Jacob (1895-1984)

The youngest of ten children, Gordon Jacob was born in London.  He taught music theory, composition, and orchestration at the Royal College of Music.  He wrote a great deal of music, much of it for solo instruments.  His fanfare was used for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and funeral, and the coronation of King Charles and Camilla.  The oboe quartet was written in 1938 and dedicated to Leon Goossens, a well-known oboist in England during the 20th century..