The NEC quartet-in-residence says goodbye to Mai after 22 years, and welcomes longtime NEC community member Melissa.
The Borromeo String Quartet, New England Conservatory’s quartet-in-residence in the Chamber Music department, is undergoing a transformation as they enter their 33rd season: They are saying goodbye to NEC faculty member and violist Mai Motobuchi, a member of the quartet for 22 years who is retiring from performing to focus on teaching, and welcoming new violist Melissa Reardon ’02 MM, ’03 GD, a longtime member of the NEC community who began as an NEC Prep student at age 11, and who found inspiration in watching Borromeo perform when she was a student growing up.
From her formative NEC Prep years to studying with Kim Kashkashian as a graduate student, Melissa’s love of chamber music and string quartets inspired her to pursue a professional career in the field, including playing as a member of the Ensō String Quartet, where she was the violist from 2006-2018, and was nominated for a Grammy Award as part of the Quartet. Melissa has admired the Borromeo String Quartet for many years and says she is “overjoyed” at the opportunity to officially join the group, remarking that it is a “dream come true.” A faculty member and Artist in Residence at Bard College and Conservatory, Melissa will also be joining NEC’s faculty with her appointment to the Borromeo String Quartet. She also serves as Artistic Director of the Portland Chamber Music Festival, and is a founding member and Executive Director of East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO).
Mai was a member of the Borromeo String Quartet for 22 years, and while she was not an official founding member, she has had the longest-running tenure prior to her retirement from performing – after more than 2,000 concerts and recordings over her career. She says her priority now is continuing to share experiences with students, and her “main focus is on developing the next generation.” Mai performed her last concerts with the Borromeo String Quartet at the end of July 2022, but will be joining them for a movement of Mozart’s Viola Quintet during their upcoming concert in September at NEC.
The members of the Borromeo String Quartet (violinist Nicholas Kitchen, cellist Yeesun Kim, and violinist Kristopher Tong) issued a statement on Mai’s departure and their upcoming concerts with new member Melissa:
“Our dear violist Mai Motobuchi is retiring from performing after a remarkable 22 years of playing with the Borromeo String Quartet. Mai has always given herself musically to the fullest with tireless enthusiasm and dedication. Her music making invariably transmits a joy and generosity that is infectious to her colleagues as well as audience members. We will miss sharing music with her and cherish the times we had together working and performing for 20-plus years. We wish her the very best as she focuses her energy 100 percent on teaching at NEC and nurturing the next generation of violists with her knowledge and love of music and life.
The quartet’s inaugural concert at NEC with Melissa will be on September 25 at 8 PM in Burnes Hall. The program will include Haydn Op. 74, No. 1, Bartok 1 and the final movement of Mozart G minor Viola Quintet K. 516, with Mai on the 2nd Viola part.
We look forward to seeing many of you as we welcome Melissa and celebrate Mai’s legacy with our beloved NEC community.”
The Borromeo String Quartet will also be performing three concerts in August in Massachusetts and New York, you can find more details at their website.