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Eastman School String Quartet to Play at Presidential Inauguration

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Rochester: Eastman School String Quartet to Play at Presidential Inauguration
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It's a characterization as old as Ellis Island: the United States of America is a "melting pot."

So, too, is the newly-formed Eastman String Quartet. One violinist is a native of Ukraine, and the other calls Hong Kong home. The cellist hails from South Korea, while the viola player is originally from Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

Together, this melting pot of Americans and immigrants will perform classical music at the inauguration luncheon of President Barack Obama.

"Especially at a political event, to bring all different kinds of music together into one venue, it really gives a global unity," says viola player Kelsey Farr.

And to play at the inauguration of a president: "We're all just really honored and excited to be doing it," she says.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," says cellist Hyeok Kwon. He is a dual citizen of both South Korea and the U.S.A.

"If I had the opportunity to play for the Korean president, per se... it wouldn't be as big a deal internationally," says Hyeok. "This is just immense. It's a great honor."

But the opportunity has not come without years of hard work. Three of these young musicians have been studying music since age six or seven.

And their love for the music shines brightly.

"Vivaldi (a classical Italian composer) was the first CD my father bought me when I was young," says Che Ho Lam, a native of Hong Kong, China. "I was just mesmerized by the sound of violins."

Love, however, comes in many different forms.

"I think (the cello) is the sexiest of all instruments," says Hyeok, with a hearty laugh. "It's very relatable to the human voice, because the range of the instrument is closest to the human voice range."

American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow perhaps said it best: music is the universal language.

"Especially at Eastman; it brings in students from all over the world," says Farr.

"We speak in a language," says Hyeok, "but music is something that for me, is like my way of speaking."

That language, according to these young stars, is spreading.

"I think governments from different countries are trying to promote this art form," says Che Ho Lam. "It's not only a great honor for me, and all of us; we're really privileged."

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