The Pacifica Quartet certainly looks the part of a next-generation quartet: first violin Simin Ganatra’s family comes from South Asia, second violin Sibbi Bernhardsson is from Iceland (yes, he’s worked with Bjork), violist Masumi Per Rostad is half Norwegian, half Japanese, and cellist Brandon Vamos’s parents are prominent string instructors of Latin descent. And they typify the questing nature of the current crop of classical artists, offering powerful readings of the standard repertoire while working to develop a contemporary canon. (They wowed audiences in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York last season with marathon performances of all five quartets by American modernist Elliott Carter.) The Pacifica’s first concert of 2004 at the University of Chicago, where they’re a resident ensemble, will feature the local premiere of Mosaics, a 2002 commission from U. of C. composition prof Marta Ptaszynska. The Polish-born and -trained Ptaszynska is also a percussionist, and her pieces reflect a player’s intimate understanding of rhythm and of the physical work of playing music; they’re notable as well for an affecting harmonic and dynamic subtlety and an unusually broad range of tonal colors. Mosaics is inspired in part by Beethoven’s enormous, protomodern Grosse Fuge, originally written as the final movement of his 13th quartet, and the Pacifica will follow it with a subsequent Beethoven work: the unusual seven-movement Quartet no. 14 in C-sharp Minor. The program opens with Haydn’s buoyant Quartet in D, op. 64, no. 5 (“The Lark”). Friday, January 30, 8 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th; 773-702-8068.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Robin Holland.