String quartet returns to the Suncoast for three performances

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Ariel String Quartet is performing on the Suncoast this weekend. It features world-renowned musicians who are a part of the Perlman Music Program.

The quartet was officially formed in 1998, but the musicians started playing together long before that in an Israeli middle school. "We all signed up for a chamber music class, got put together randomly…they were matching age," says original member Gershon Gerchikov.

Everyone soon realized it was a match made in heaven. "Early on as group, we felt there is really something exciting you can do with this."

The Ariels have a special place in the hearts of classical music lovers on the Suncoast: they're alumni of the Perlman Music Program. And as alumni they have returned year after year to Perlman's winter residency program at USF. "A lot of our audiences that have been watching the program for a while have been watching the Ariels grow up in the Perlman Music Program," says Elizabeth Power, executive director of the PMP.

They are very successful. They do about 50 concerts a year, and they are in residence at College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. "There we run the Chamber Music Department and we have our own concert series," says member Jan Gruning.

But they are still a part of the Perlman Music Program. They perform in Suncoast schools and talk to the students, and now they're here to complete the six-concert Beethoven cycle they started last fall.

Quite an accomplishment for such young musicians. "It's like climbing Mount Everest, something we dreamed of for a long time."

"They are doing a beautiful job professionally and in their service, going into school and inspiring the next general of concert artists, educators, and audience -- which is what the Perlman Music Program is all about," says Power.

The first two concerts are going to be at the Selby Auditorium at USF, where the Perlman Music Program holds their winter residence. The 3rd concert is going to be at the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch on Monday at 7pm.