Four world class professionals make up the Artisan Quartet: Richard Kilmer and Caleb Polashek (violins), Bruce Williams (viola), and Douglas Harvey (cello). Between these four musicians, they have performed on six continents and half the United States. Members of the Austin Symphony and other various organizations in Central Texas, the Artisan members bring a wealth of experience and variety to their music making.

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When last we left you, we had just cancelled our February Artisan Quartet Series concert because Paula broke her left shoulder in January while running in the 3M Half Marathon. By now you undoubtedly know the story of that evil pothole on the UT campus at mile 12 and Paula getting up to finish the last mile or so of the race after her fall. The show must go on as they say, so we engaged Caleb Polashek again (he filled in for Paula 2 years back with us at the Victoria Bach Festival when she shattered the other shoulder), and fulfilled our commitments on the Spicewood Arts Society's series in March and at our own newly created Mason County Chamber Music Festival the first weekend of April. Both events went great and since Paula resigned, we have invited Caleb to join the Artisan Quartet. We are delighted to announce that he has accepted!

While all this was happening, Paula was recovering from her fall and continued every other part of her professional life. That included but was not limited to: teaching Suzuki violin technique at her private studio (Wildflower Suzuki Studio) to some very adorable young musicians, teaching her full load of college students at Texas State University, teaching lessons over the internet in the evenings when we were all at Austin Symphony (or Ballet, Opera, Chorus Austin (etc…) rehearsals, and enriching her life and the lives of many others with her very informative and insightful blog posts and podcasts. She of course was doing most of this while she was a member of the Artisan Quartet (much to our continued amazement), but without the AQ occupying so much of her time and energy this Spring, she rediscovered her love for these other aspects of her life.

It was her idea to resign from the AQ and not only to fulfill her own goals as a teacher and writer. Her physical recovery has been challenging and even though she has resumed her playing career with the Austin Symphony and the many other organizations she plays with, she is in considerable pain while playing and may have to endure pain while playing the rest of her career. It was mostly that uncertainty that prompted her to resign from AQ. Not because she wanted to, but because she thought it was the best thing for her own future and that of the Artisan Quartet.

So we accept Paula's resignation with all the gratitude possible for our dear friend and colleague and remember our time together with the greatest fondness. We understand this is not the future we all had planned, but one way or the other, the Universe always has a say in these matters. It's good to listen to the Universe even when we don't want to hear what it has to say.

We created music on a very high level and made some great memories along the way. All the Beethoven quartets, recognition by the Texas House of Representatives, all those great concerts at St. Matthews, Blackerby Recital Hall, in Victoria, Blanco, San Antonio, and especially that week at the Hotel Moderne in NYC and the rehearsals and concert at Carnegie Hall! We love you Paula!

Many of you already know about our newest project, the Mason County Chamber Music Festival (MCCMF), but perhaps this is news to most of you. After our very well received performance in Mason May 2nd, presented by the Odeon Preservation Association (OPA), we proposed a collaboration with the OPA to create a chamber music festival during the wildflower season. They liked the idea, and now we are planning to present the MCCMF April 1 - 3, 2016 including concerts in the historic Odeon Theater, Mason High School, and free concerts in the Mason County Courthouse and the First United Methodist Church. The Artisan Quartet will be in residence and the guest artists for this inaugural season will be Steve Girko (clarinet) and Rick Rowley (piano).

The OPA is a very strong non-profit organization with a proven track record, including the funding of extensive renovations on the Odeon (with future renovations planned and paid for) and presenting concerts there for over ten years. Here is the fundraising letter the OPA sent to their supporters about the MCCMF:

Letter from Cathy Terrell, Project Committee Chair and OPA Board Member

I am writing to you about an exciting new cultural initiative in Mason County and to invite you to help make it happen.

The Odeon Preservation Association (OPA) and the Artisan Quartet from Austin plan to create an annual classical chamber music festival in Mason during the spring wildflower season.

Through this festival the citizens of Mason and surrounding counties gain access to world class chamber music without having to travel to Austin or San Antonio while at the same time creating awareness of the Arts in Mason, the Odeon theatre and the Odeon Preservation Association.

The Artisan Quartet performed at the Odeon on May 2nd, 2015 and demonstrated that there was a huge appetite for this kind of music. The concert was an overwhelming success.

The festival is planned for March 31 through April 3d of 2016. There will be several concerts at different venues and some will be free to the public, including a concert for all the high school students in the school auditorium. The youth concert for the Mason high school students can stir the imagination of the students and the other free concerts will ensure that everyone in the community can attend an event.

This festival weekend could also become an important economic benefit to service related local businesses such as B&B’s, restaurants, service stations, etc. The event will benefit Mason County both educationally and culturally as well as economically.

To make this exciting dream a reality will require generous support from the Mason County community. The projected budget for the 2016 festival is about $20,000. As is true for any performing arts production across the country, ticket sales will cover less than half that amount. That is why we’re asking you to consider becoming a Festival Sponsor. We are enclosing a list of donor levels for your consideration.

All donors will have their names listed in our programs, and will be mentioned at curtain time before the concert at the Odeon starts. The Odeon Preservation Association is a 501©3 organization and your donation will be tax deductible.

I or another Festival Steering Committee member would be pleased to tell you more about our Festival and how your organization can play an important part in this wonderful new event for Mason County. Please contact me at 325.347.0691 or 325.218.2353 or We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, Cathy Terrell – Project Committee Chair and OPA board member

Donor levels

Chamber Music Friends (Gift up to $100)

Mendelssohn Circle (Gift of $101 - $499)

Schubert Circle (Gift of $500 - $999)

Dvorak Circle (Gift of $1000 - $2499)

Haydn Circle (Gift of $2500 - $4999)

Mozart’s Gold Circle (Gift of $5000 - $9,999)

Beethoven’s Platinum Circle (Gift of $10,000 and above)

Donor Premiums

In appreciation of your tax deductible donation to the Mason County Chamber Music Festival we will list all donors’ names in all of our programs.

We will thank all donors at curtain time at the Odeon theatre.

Platinum and Gold Donors will be invited to a private cocktail party to meet the musicians.

Gifts in kind and volunteer hours will also be recognized.

Mason County Chamber Music Festival falls under the umbrella of the Odeon Preservation Association and is a 501 ©3 non-profit organization.

Please make your checks out to: The Odeon Preservation Association (OPA) and write MCCMF on the memo line.

Please mail your checks to: MCCMF, P O Box 1647 Mason, Texas 76856

Full text of House Resolution 703:

By: Naishtat H.R. No. 703

WHEREAS, Since 2009, the Artisan Quartet of Austin has been
delighting audiences with its spirited performances of string
quartets by classical and contemporary composers, and the group is
being featured in two concerts during the 2012-2013 season of the
Austin Symphony; and

WHEREAS, The origins of this distinguished ensemble date back
to the late 1980s, when violinist Richard Kilmer and violist Bruce
Williams joined with two other musicians to form the Austin String
Quartet, which was then renamed the Camilli Quartet; over the next
few years, this lineup performed 40 of classical music's greatest
string quartets, ranging from pieces by Beethoven to Bartok; and

WHEREAS, After the two other members accepted positions
overseas, Mr. Kilmer and Mr. Williams continued to perform
informally with a variety of musicians as the Austin String
Quartet, and during those years, cellist Douglas Harvey became a
regular member of the group; and

WHEREAS, The Artisan Quartet was created in 2009 with the
addition of violinist Paula E. Bird, and since then, the group has
performed in many places around Central Texas, including the
Victoria Bach Festival, the Blanco Performing Arts Association
Concert Series, the Twilight Concert Series in Jonestown and Lago
Vista, the Saint Cecilia Music Series in Austin, and the Salon
Concert Series in San Antonio; in addition to the great Classical
era string quartets by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, the group
regularly plays pieces by the great Romantic composers Tchaikovsky,
Grieg, and Borodin, as well as modern works by Philip Glass and
Roberto Sierra; and

WHEREAS, In March 2012, the quartet made its Carnegie Hall
debut in New York, playing before a sold-out crowd in the Weill
Recital Hall Chamber and Solo Music Series, and members of the
ensemble are nearing the end of the two-year Genius at Play series,
in which they are performing a complete cycle of all the Beethoven
string quartets; during the 2012-2013 season of the Austin
Symphony, the Artisan Series is featuring these four gifted
musicians in two performances in the Smith Family Chapel at
Riverbend Church; and

WHEREAS, For the past four years, the Artisan String Quartet
has helped to show that Austin is indeed the Live Music Capital of
the World in more ways than one, and their stirring performances in
Austin, across Texas, and around the nation continue to add to their
growing reputation among classical music lovers everywhere; now,
therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 83rd Texas
Legislature hereby honor Richard Kilmer, Bruce Williams, Douglas
Harvey, and Paula E. Bird of the Artisan Quartet for their talent
and dedication and extend to them sincere best wishes for continued
success; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be
prepared for the group as an expression of high regard by the Texas
House of Representatives.

The Artisan Quartet shops at the Blackerby Violin Shop for all our string playing needs.