Skip to main content

Airport exhibit marks centennial of Pro Arte Quartet, Wisconsin Idea

February 15, 2012

The history of the University of Wisconsin’s Pro Arte String Quartet and the Wisconsin Idea, both of which turn a record-breaking 100 years old this year, will be told through a public exhibit beginning Thursday, March 1, in the entry lobby of the Dane County Regional Airport.

A free public opening reception, with light food and cash bar refreshments, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. that same night. Members of the quartet will be present to perform music and to meet the public.

The show, “Marooned in Madison: The Pro Arte Quartet Celebrates 100 Years,” will run through Sept. 3. The display features music, photos, manuscripts, instruments, old and new recordings, and interactive technology. The show is free and open to the public at all times.

It also includes a section on the ongoing centennial of the Wisconsin Idea, the notion that the boundaries of the campus extend to those of the state and beyond.

Organized by the Pro Arte Quartet’s Centennial Committee and the UW Tandem Press, the exhibit seeks to expose the unknown history of the pioneering string quartet, which came to Madison as artists-in-residence — the first such affiliation in the world and a model for many later quartets — after the quartet members (below) were exiled here during a concert tour because Hitler had invaded their native Belgium in 1940.

Since then, the Pro Arte Quartet has changed its members many times as it has carried the Wisconsin Idea of public benefit from academic research to Carnegie Hall and the White House as well as to concert halls, high schools and universities through Wisconsin, the Midwest, the U.S. and the world, including tours to Europe, Asia and South America.

The quartet is marking its centennial by commissioning, premiering and recording four new works by renowned American composers, and by offering a series of lectures, concerts and master classes that are all free and open to the public. For more information and a full schedule of events in late March and late April, click here.

You probably know Samuel Barber’s famous “Adagio for Strings,” especially from recent events commemorating Sept. 11, 2001.

But you may not know that the Pro Arte Quartet gave the world premiere of that celebrated work in Rome in 1936, and has premiered more than a hundred other works. Come to the exhibit and find out about that and much more, including what string quartets have in common with Vitamin D in milk, Warfarin and stem cells.

For more information about the airport exhibit and other Pro Arte Quartet centennial events, visit here or email or call Sarah Schaffer at the UW School of Music, (608) 263-1900.

Subscribe to Wisconsin Ideas

Want more stories of the Wisconsin Idea in action? Sign-up for our monthly e-newsletter highlighting how Badgers are taking their education and research beyond the boundaries of the classroom to improve lives.