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The Beethoven Experience: Artistry and Education

2020 marks a big year for Beethoven. It is the 250th anniversary of his birth and Staunton is celebrating him in style. Heifetz International Music Institute, along with Mary Baldwin University’s College of Visual & Performing Arts and the American Shakespeare Center are collaborating to bring the Borromeo Quartet to Staunton for the Beethoven Experience. Over a series of six concerts, the Quartet will perform all 16 of Beethoven’s string quartets.

In addition to the music, the Beethoven Experience concert series, billed a musical and educational experience, will treat its audience to a wider understanding of “the intellectual, political, and artistic currents” that affected Beethoven’s time. After the concerts, the audience will have both enjoyed the music and developed a deeper sense of its influences.

The six concerts will be performed by the Borromeo Quartet over the course of the year at the Blackfriars Playhouse. The Blackfriars is a perfect venue for chamber music, which is designed to be performed in intimate spaces. Each concert will include music from the three distinct periods of Beethoven’s career.


Known for his compositional skill and tremendous range of work, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) helped transition music from the classical era to the romantic era. Many consider his string quartets – masterpieces limited to a mere four voices – to be his best compositions. This is due to their intimate nature, their emotional connections to his life and times, and their complexity in style, tempo, and emotion.

Borromeo Quartet

The renowned Borromeo Quartet has inspired audiences for 25 years. It encourages “audiences of all ages to explore and listen to both traditional and contemporary repertoire in new ways” by often incorporating multimedia elements such as video projections into its performances. These tools help “to share the often surprising creative process behind some works, or to show graphically the elaborate architecture behind others.”


In addition to the music, ticket holders will be treated to a symposium before each concert. Heifetz Institute Artistic Director Nicholas Kitchen, ASC Artistic Director Ethan McSweeney, MBU College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Paul Menzer, as well as special guest commentators from the MBU, ASC, and Heifetz community of faculty and experts will investigate the intersection between Beethoven and the intellectual, political, and artistic currents of his time – and ours. The symposia will be moderated by Heifetz Institute President & CEO Benjamin K. Roe.


Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market Street, Staunton, VA

Symposia at 6:30 pm; Concerts at 7:30 pm

Concert Dates,Themes, and Tickets:

  • Feb. 24 – Bor-Romeo (TICKETS): Beethoven and Shakespeare Beyond the Tomb
  • April 6 – Speaking to God: The Beethoven Hotline (TICKETS): Beethoven’s spirituality, explored and expressed
  • May 4 – B.A.C.H.D.N.A. (TICKETS): Beethoven’s worship of Bach, examined and exposed in his quartets
  • Oct. 5 – Beethoven’s “Punny Money” (TICKETS): The humor, profundity, and pfennings of Beethoven’s life and music
  • Nov. 10 – The Flexing Muscle (TICKETS): The contrary composer’s rigidity – and surprising elasticity – revealed in one formidable fugue
  • Dec. 7 – Questions from the Journey (TICKETS): At the end of this epic cycle, a lively Q & A between panelists and audience


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