International string ensemble has Hyattsville connections

April 15, 2014

Violinists Matthias Lingenfelder and Jens Oppermann, cellist Andreas Arndt and violist Stewart Eaton have been performing together as the Auryn Quartet since 1981. They lived here while studying at the University of Maryland and returned to town on April 9 for a benefit concert for the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation. Photo courtesy the Auryn Quartet.

BY JENNA HECKER — The Auryn Quartet, a string ensemble formed in 1981, has played at concert halls and music festivals around the globe, from New York to Edinburgh to Salzburg. Its April 9 performance, “Schubert, Schubert and Beethoven,” was held in a relatively humble setting: First Baptist Church of Hyattsville.

The members — cellist Andreas Arndt, violist Stewart Eaton and violinists Jens Oppermann and Matthias Lingenfelder — met as musicians with the European Union Youth Orchestra.  More than 30 years later, they are still performing with the group, which they named after a wish-granting talisman in Michael Ende’s novel The Neverending Story.

Auryn is one of a few long-standing string ensembles with all the original members.

“Sometimes, as in some marriages, it just does not work for a long time,” notes Gloria Felix-Thompson, who has known the members for decades and regularly coordinates local appearances for them when they are in the area. “In Auryn’s case, they formed this quartet as young men and literally ‘grew up’ together, as human beings and musicians.”

An early part of that bond was formed in Hyattsville, when the fledgling ensemble came to the University of Maryland to study under the Guarneri Quartet for two semesters. During that time, they lived and practiced in Hyattsville, deeply connecting them to the city.

The April 9 concert was something of a homecoming for the group, as well as a way of giving back to a community they treasure.  Fresh from a two-night engagement in San Jose, California, where tickets ranged from $27 to $42, the four musicians stopped here for a more intimate gathering at $10 a head. Proceeds of the event will go toward the renovation of 4314 Farragut Street, the future home of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation (CDC).

Felix-Thompson said that the quartet tries to return to the city at least once a year from its home base of Cologne, Germany.

“[Hyattsville] is their home away from home,” said Felix-Thompson. “They travel all over the world, but this is the place for them.”