Takács Quartet announces appointment of violist Richard O’Neill, retirement of Geri Walther after 15 years
As the Takács Quartet enters its 45th year, the internationally acclaimed string quartet—in residence at the College of Music since 1986—will soon see a new musician enter its esteemed ranks. Violist and Ralph E. and Barbara L. Christoffersen Faculty Fellow Geraldine Walther will retire from the group and from the CU Boulder faculty this May, after a remarkable 15 years. Korean-American viola player and award-winning chamber musician Richard O’Neill will join the quartet in June.
“We feel extremely grateful to have been able to share our musical lives with Geri since 2005, benefitting from her wonderful sound and vibrant musicianship in concerts and numerous recordings,” say the continuing members of the Takács. “We are excited to welcome Richard, who is a friend and colleague of ours at the Music Academy of the West, and whose artistry we have admired for many years.”
Reflecting on her time in the quartet, Walther says, “I have loved being a member of the Takács Quartet and am grateful for all the friends I’ve made along the way. I am very happy to hand the baton over to the wonderful violist and musician, Richard O’Neill, and wish the group every success for their future together!”
The quartet’s latest appointment celebrates the extraordinary journey of the Takács since its foundation in 1975 by four Hungarian students at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. Each member is steeped in the Hungarian/Central European roots and traditions of the quartet, absorbed over decades of collaboration and commitment, and they are now fêted as “arguably the greatest string quartet in the world” (The Guardian, May 2018).
O’Neill joins founding member, cellist András Fejér, English first violinist Edward Dusinberre and American second violinist Harumi Rhodes, who is of Japanese-Russian descent. The Takács affirms the power of the string quartet to foster communication and cooperation across cultures, nationalities and generations.
Richard O’Neill, who is renowned as both a chamber musician and Grammy-nominated soloist, adds, “Joining the Takács Quartet is the greatest honor of my life. I am thrilled to follow in the footsteps of one of my heroes, the great Geraldine Walther, whom I have listened to and adored since I was a child. I look forward to the joy of making music with Ed, Harumi and András and will do my best to uphold the esteemed tradition of the Takács Quartet.”
O’Neill will now join the College of Music faculty alongside the current members of the Takács, coaching string students and working closely with the graduate string quartet-in-residence, the Ivalas Quartet.
College of Music Dean John Davis says Walther is not only a world-class musician, but a world-class individual. “Geri Walther, whose exceptional artistry has contributed to the long-standing success and reputation of the Takács Quartet, will be sorely missed by the many people who have been impacted by her music, friendship, teaching and warm spirit. “She has been a treasured part of the College of Music family and her immense contributions here will be felt for many years to come.
“The addition of Richard to the quartet is to be celebrated. Richard is a musician of the highest caliber and we are beyond thrilled that he will become the newest member of the Takács Quartet and contribute to the ongoing stellar level of the group. We welcome him to the College of Music!”
Walther’s final performance in front of Boulder audiences will be the quartet’s season-closing concert on May 4, 2020. Click here for ticket information and to see a full listing of upcoming Takács Quartet concerts at CU Presents.
About Richard O’Neill
Praised by the New York Times for his “elegant, velvety tone,” violist Richard O’Neill has distinguished himself as one of the great instrumentalists of his generation. He has appeared as soloist with the world’s top orchestras, including the London, Los Angeles, Seoul and Euro-Asian Philharmonics, and he has worked with distinguished musicians and conductors, including Andrew Davis, Vladimir Jurowski, Francois Xavier Roth, Leonard Slatkin and Yannick Nezet-Seguin. He is in his 10th season as artistic director of Ensemble DITTO, as well as artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and principal violist of Camerata Pacifica. O’Neill is a Grammy-nominated Universal Music/Deutsche Grammophon recording artist who has made 10 solo albums and many other chamber music recordings, earning multiple platinum discs. He has appeared on major TV networks in South Korea and enjoyed huge success with his 2004 KBS documentary “Human Theater,” which was viewed by over 12 million people, and his 2013 series “Hello?! Orchestra,” which featured his work with a multicultural youth orchestra for MBC and led to an International Emmy in Arts Programming and a feature length film. He serves as Goodwill Ambassador for the Korean Red Cross, The Special Olympics, UNICEF and OXFAM and serves on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. Visit O’Neill’s website.