For Immediate Release

 Contact: Stephanie Janes PR, (617) 419-0445,


Celebrity Series of Boston
Gary Dunning, President and Executive Director

What Makes It Great? with Rob Kapilow and the Verona Quartet

The Arc of Genius: Beethoven’s First and Last Quartets

Sunday, February 9, 2020, 3pm — NEC’s Jordan Hall

Rob Kapilow high-res photo | Verona Quartet high-res photo

Rob Kapilow video preview | Verona Quartet video preview

Celebrity Series Press Room 

(Boston) Celebrity Series of Boston will present What Makes It Great? with Rob Kapilow and the Verona Quartet, The Arc of Genius: Beethoven's First and Last Quartets on Sunday, February 9, 2020, at 3pm at NEC’s Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA. What Makes It Great? is generously sponsored by Amy & Joshua Boger.

Tickets start at $30 and are available online at, by calling (617) 482-6661 Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m., or at NEC’s Box Office, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA.

This performance marks the 86th Celebrity Series performance Rob Kapilow and the 44th presentation of What Makes It Great© since its Boston debut in 1997.

Beethoven’s first and last string quartets are among the most renowned landmarks in musical literature. These quartets revolutionized the genre, often confusing audiences of the time. With Rob Kapilow and the Concert Artist Guild-winning Verona Quartet as guides, audiences will gain a fresh perspective on these peaks among the musical mountains. In this special program, Rob and the award-winning Verona Quartet will take the audience on a journey, listening for the remarkable similarities as well as contrasts between Beethoven’s very first and very last string quartets.

For more than 20 years, Rob Kapilow has brought the joy and wonder of classical music – and unraveled some of its mysteries – to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Characterized by his unique ability to create an “aha” moment for his audiences and collaborators, whatever their level of musical sophistication or naiveté, Kapilow’s work brings music into people’s lives: opening new ears to musical experiences and helping people to listen actively rather than just hear. As the Boston Globe said, “It’s a cheering thought that this kind of missionary enterprise did not pass from this earth with Leonard Bernstein. Rob Kapilow is awfully good at what he does. We need him.”

Kapilow’s range of activities is astonishingly broad, including his What Makes It Great?® presentations (now for more than fifteen seasons in New York and Boston), his family compositions and Family Musik® events, his “Citypieces”, and residencies with institutions as diverse as the National Gallery of Canada and Stanford University. The reach of his interactive events and activities is wide, both geographically and culturally: from Native American tribal communities in Montana and inner-city high school students in Louisiana to audiences in Kyoto and Kuala Lumpur, and from tots barely out of diapers to musicologists in Ivy League programs, his audiences are diverse and unexpected, but invariably rapt and keen to come back for more.

Kapilow’s What Makes It Great?® (WMIG) made its auspicious debut on NPR’s Performance Today more than 20 years ago, and with its accessible ten-minute format it quickly attracted a wide base of fans and followers. Snowballing in popularity, it developed into a full-length concert evening and was soon snapped up by presenters looking to build new audiences. What Makes It Great?® has sold out regular subscription series in places as diverse as Kansas City, MO, Cerritos, CA, as well as at New York’s Lincoln Center, the Celebrity Series of Boston, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and the National Gallery of Canada. The latest installment of WMIG concerts is now being presented by the Toronto Symphony, and will include Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, the Beethoven Violin Concerto and Copeland’s Appalachian Spring.

In 2008, PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center broadcast a special What Makes It Great?® show, bringing it to TV screens throughout the US; worldwide audiences were also able to see and experience Kapilow’s trademarked presentations when Lincoln Center inaugurated a series of WMIG video podcasts. Kapilow designed a series of WMIG events especially for teenagers, and, in 2005, he introduced them to thousands of middle- and high-school children in collaboration with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, in a series that has continued on an annual basis and has been repeated around North America.

Acclaimed for its bold interpretive strength and electrifying performances, the Verona Quartet is the 2020 recipient of Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award. The Quartet’s members represent four different nations, but their singular approach and unanimity of purpose in both musical and cultural cooperation have quickly earned the group a reputation as an “outstanding ensemble...cohesive yet full of temperament.” (The New York Times).

The Verona Quartet is one of the most sought after string quartets of its generation. Since winning the 2015 Concert Artists Guild competition, the Verona Quartet has cultivated a progressive approach to collaboration and programming including numerous cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary enterprises. Projects include performances with dancers from Brooklyn’s Dance Heginbotham, artistic exchange with traditional Emirati poets in the UAE and collaborations through the Kennedy Center’s Direct Current Festival with folk supergroup I’m With Her as well as cellist Joshua Roman. Other notable collaborators include Anne-Marie McDermott, Orion Weiss, Cho-Liang Lin, Atar Arad, Paul Katz, David Shifrin, Charles Neidich, and Renée Fleming.

The Verona Quartet has developed a consummate reputation for its compelling interpretations of contemporary music, and regularly champions and commissions works from composers such as Julia Adolphe, Sebastian Currier, Richard Danielpour, as well as Michael Gilbertson, whose Quartet was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Forthcoming album releases include Gilbertson’s Quartet, as well as the Verona Quartet’s debut album, Diffusion, on Azica Records featuring works by Ravel, Szymanowski and Janacek.

The Verona Quartet rose to international prominence by sweeping top prizes at competitions across four continents, including the Wigmore Hall, Melbourne, Osaka and M-Prize International Competitions. The Quartet currently serves as the inaugural Quartet-in-Residence with North Carolina’s Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, where it performs over ten concerts and forty community engagement activities annually. Strongly committed to education, the Verona Quartet is also Quartet-in-Residence for the Indiana University Summer String Academy and New England Conservatory Preparatory School. Further positions include the 2017-18 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts as well as guest residencies at numerous institutions worldwide including Oberlin Conservatory of Music, USC Thornton School of Music, The Hartt School, UNC School of the Arts, Syracuse University, Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.

Formed at Indiana University under the tutelage of the Pacifica Quartet and Atar Arad, the Verona Quartet went on to complete residencies at The Juilliard School with the Juilliard String Quartet, as well as the New England Conservatory with Paul Katz. The group also counts among its principal mentors Alex Kerr, David Finckel, Donald Weilerstein, Martha Katz, Merry Peckham, Miriam Fried, Kim Kashkashian and Nicholas Kitchen. The ensemble’s “thoughtful, impressive” performances (Cleveland Classical) emanate from the spirit of storytelling; the Quartet believes that the essence of storytelling transcends genre and therefore the name "Verona" pays tribute to William Shakespeare, one of the greatest storytellers of all time.


Ludwig van Beethoven

Quartet in F Major, Opus 18 no. 1
I. Allegro con brio
III. Scherzo: Allegro molto

Quartet in F Major, Opus 135 
I. Vivace
IV. Grave - ma non troppo tratto - Allegro

About Celebrity Series of Boston  

Celebrity Series of Boston was founded in 1938 by pianist and impresario Aaron Richmond. The Celebrity Series has been bringing the very best performers–from orchestras and chamber ensembles, vocal and piano music, to dance companies, jazz, and more–to Boston’s major concert halls for 81 years. The Celebrity Series of Boston believes in the power of excellence and innovation in the performing arts to enrich life experiences, transform lives and build better communities. Through its education initiatives, the Celebrity Series seeks to build a community of Greater Boston where the performing arts are a valued, lifelong, shared experience—on stages, on streets, in neighborhoods–everywhere.

Celebrity Series of Boston is grateful to our 2019-20 Season Sponsors Amy & Joshua Boger, and to the many individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies whose support helps fulfill our mission to present performing artists who inspire and enrich our community. Institutional supporters include the Barr Foundation through its ArtsAmplified initiative, The Boston Foundation, Stephanie L. Brown Foundation, The Catered Affair, Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation, Deloitte LLP, D.L. Saunders Real Estate Corp., Foley & Lardner LLP, Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Liberty Mutual Foundation, The Klarman Family Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Outside the Box: A Production of the Boston Arts Summer Institute, Cynthia and John S. Reed Foundation, Royal Little Family Foundation, Stifler Family Foundation, Anonymous, and many others.