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Warren Wilson College puts the fine arts front and center with the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival, entering its 48th season with performances throughout July on the Swannanoa campus. The first concert is 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 1 in Kittredge Theater.

The Jasper String Quartet and percussionist Yousif Sheronick will launch the series that will be replicated in Waynesville and Greenville, South Carolina.

The Jasper String Quartet, based in Philadelphia, is a professional quartet in residence at Temple University's Center for Gifted Young Musicians. Returning to the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival for the seventh consecutive year, the quartet is the winner of the 2011 Chamber Music America Cleveland Quartet Award.

“The Jasper String Quartet is the definition of excellence,” said Inessa Zaretsky, director and pianist for the festival. “Warren Wilson College is fortunate to feature so many amazing musicians each summer, and the Jaspers rounds out the series so eloquently. While they are known for exquisite music, the quartet takes it to the next level by connecting audience members to the pieces on a very real and emotional level.”

Accomplished in classical, world, jazz and rock music arenas, Sheronick honed his skills at Yale University and elsewhere around the world. He has shared the stage with Yo-Yo Ma, Branford Marsalis and Paul Winter, among others.

Along with Zaretsky, the Jasper String Quartet and Sheronick will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s “String Quartet in E minor Op. 44 No. 2,” Giovanni Sollima’s “Quintet for Percussion and String Quartet,” Donnacha Dennehy’s “Pushpulling (2007)” and Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Piano Quintet Op. 57.”

The first concerts of the series will be a tribute to longtime festival pianist Ruth Geiger. For tickets and information, visit scm-festival.com.

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