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A classic string quartet with pizazz

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Entertainment,Music,Emily Cary

The Harlem Quartet joins pianist Misha Dichter for a Fortas Chamber Concert guaranteed to whisk away winter blues. The program features Quintets by Shostakovich and Schumann and jazz master Chick Corea's "Adventures of Hippocrates" inspired by a robot L. Ron Hubbard invented for a science fiction series.

Violinist Ilmar Gavilan is excited about the program. He and colleagues Melissa White on violin, violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez and cellist Paul Wiancko have performed the Schumann work several times with Dichter and first played Corea's piece at the composer's 70th birthday celebration.

"Chick's management wanted to include that piece in the tribute to him," Gavilan said. "Our good friends the Orion Quartet had recorded it originally, but they couldn't make the event so we got the music from them and learned it in a short amount of time. It's very eclectic and incorporates tango elements, a waltz with beautiful harmonies and a series of strong rhythms.

"When we got to the party, it was filled with jazz musicians, the real deal who brought along all kinds of sound equipment. We were wearing suits and had no mic, but we played as well as we could. Chick came up to us afterward and said, 'You guys killed it.' We didn't know what that expression meant and thought we had ruined it until we saw the big smile on his face and he asked us to join him on his Hot House tour with Gary Burton. It turned out to be a juicy gig with 25 stops all over the country."

Onstage
Misha Dichter and the Harlem Quartet
Where: Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, 2700 F Street NW
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Info: $45; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324; kennedy-center.org

For the first few years after joining the Harlem Quartet, Gavilan balanced their concerts by teaching at Juilliard, acting as concertmaster of the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and as a substitute musician for the New Jersey Symphony, but the Quartet is now in such demand that he devotes full time to the ensemble. In addition, he plans a recording with his pianist brother, Aldo Gavilan, whom Corea terms "brilliant." It follows his 2008 recording of "Gavilan Plays Gavilan," music composed by his father.

"I want the Kennedy Center audience to discover that serious music can come in many forms, and does not mean a lack of humor," he said. "Chick Corea's work is well-crafted and approachable, yet it allows serious musicians to play at the highest level."

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