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Festival Miami Focus: The Stamps String Quartet

By posted Oct 11, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Festival Miami has officially begun. The project, which features 20 concerts in only four weeks, is considered the music festival that opens the South Florida art season. Festival Miami opened October 8, and is running through October 30. Read on for more on of the featured artists, UM's own Stamps String Quartet.


By: Cristian Andres Benavides

Festival Miami is known to showcase the Frost School faculty, student ensembles, and international musical guest artists while offering other educational components such as master classes, open rehearsals, and talks with the musicians themselves. Tickets are being made more affordable for students through programs like Culture Shock Miami and for seniors through Golden Ticket and similar organizations.

Among the many events and shows that are happening in the next month, one event in particular, “STRING QUAR TÊTE-A-TÊTE," should be on the list of concerts to see for any music aficionado.

The “STRING QUAR TÊTE-A-TÊTE” features the Bergonzi String Quartet and the Stamps String Quartet. The Bergonzi String Quartet are artists in residence and are internationally known. The Stamps String Quartet consists of four freshmen who some consider the future of music. The “STRING QUAR TÊTE-A-TÊTE” is set to debut on Sunday, October 17 at 8 p.m.

Who are they?

How does fully covered tuition, free room and board, and doing what you love sound? It sounds like a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. This is what four freshmen, Ari Urban, Amanda Diaz, Chris Young, and Victor Colmenares signed up for.  Resources from both the Stamps Foundation and the University of Miami fully fund their education and living expenses. The idea is to enhance the undergraduate department at the UM Frost School of Music. Urban and Colmenares both play the violin; Diaz plays the viola and Young the cello. These are the only four in their freshmen class that are being funded by the Stamps Foundation.

In a recent interview with Urban and Diaz, they shared what it’s like to be part of the Stamps String Quartet. The two freshmen graduated from the New World School of the Arts in downtown Miami, so music education has never been a stranger to them.

Although it was never their original plan to even attend the University of Miami, when they understood what being part of this Quartet involved they realized this was the right place for them. "They completely diversify the musical experience…You don’t come here and only [learn] classical, you come here and you get involved in jazz, rock, hip-hop, everything,” said Diaz. Urban agreed, saying, “We [are] able to play any genre of music, which we would not be able to do at any [other] university.”

As a matter of fact, guest artists from all over come down to the U just to work specifically with this quartet. The four members even perform with some of the most renowned musical artists in the world.

But don’t think that the perks come at a cheap price. The Stamps Quartet members are constantly in and out of rehearsals. Regular rehearsals are held for two hours every day, and extra rehearsals are added for the days preceding the shows, and trust me: there are a lot of shows. Diaz says, “We have music classes that require practice [that] every day we have to put in, on top of homework, on top of exams, on top of studying, on top of everything.” Urban admits she still needs to work on her time management skills.

These two and the other quartet members are up for the challenge. I asked how they do it all and all they said was, "It’s pretty challenging, but we love it, so...”

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