Founded in the fall of 2007, the Mill City String Quartet seeks to create exciting and diverse concerts for listeners both familiar and new to chamber music. In addition to our season of public concerts, we also frequently collaborate with the singers of Kantorei, work with students across Central and Southern Minnesota, and have premiered several new or lesser-known chamber music works.
In late 2011, MCSQ released a recording of Christmas music, entitled “Christmas in Mill City." It continues to be heard on Minnesota Public Radio throughout the holiday season, so be sure to tune in to Classical MPR 99.5!
In recent seasons, through a generous grant from the Mankato Symphony and the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council, we toured extensively through rural communities throughout southern Minnesota. Over the course of our 13 performances, we were humbled by the warm and eager audiences and enjoyed bringing them classical music up close in their own communities. These concerts were also made possible the Minnesota Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
During the 2014-15 season, we were thrilled to be chosen as an Artist-in-Residence through Minnesota Public Radio's Class Notes program. In addition to creating a curriculum for the school music teachers, we had a fantastic and successful time performing and teaching our world music program at 7 elementary schools in early October. We were also thrilled to make two appearances on The Schubert Club's Courtroom Concert series, first with mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski, and later featuring String Quartet No. 4 by Gene Gutche.
During the 2015-16 season, we were on the road performing in Rochester and Sioux City, as well as a second trip to Naples, Florida. We also continuted our dedication to community outreach by performing at several area correctional facilities.
Last season, our first with cellist Ruth Marshall, brought another year of Minnesota Public Radio Class Notes performances in Austin and Owatonna, featuring our Music By Minors program. This program focused on young composers and the elementary school students even got to compose their own piece for string quartet! We also played five concerts at for the inmates at MCF-Shakopee, graciously sponsored through a Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Arts Learning grant. Our April 2017 concert was a celebration of the 10th year of Mill City String Quartet through a commission for string quartet and guitar by Minnesota composer Jocelyn Hagen!
This season, we will make our Thursday Musical Artist Series debut at Antonello Hall and Mankato's Music on the Hill series, as well as a return performance at the Minnesota State Fair and on The Schubert Club's Courtroom Concert series.
Four parts that make a whole:
Huldah Niles is a founding member of Mill City String Quartet. Ms. Niles currently plays violin as a substitute with the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Opera Orchestra. Huldah has been Associate Concertmaster and Principal 2ndviolin for the Mankato Symphony and Principal Viola for the Minnetonka Symphony Orchestra. Huldah began her music studies on violin at the age of five at the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City, Iowa with Doris Preucil. Through the Preucil School of music, Huldah traveled to Japan with a group of peers from the Cleveland Institute of Music where they played for Dr. Suzuki at his private residence and for the Prince and Princess of Japan in Tokyo.
Ms. Niles received both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Violin Performance from the University of Minnesota under the tutelage of Sally O’Reilly. She has also studied viola with Thomas Turner, Principal Viola of the Minnesota Orchestra. Huldah has attended many wonderful summer music festivals such as Italy Summer Music Festival in Pienza, Italy (studying with Eriko Tsuchihashi, Associate Concertmaster at Teatro alla Scala), Chautauqua Music Festival in New York, Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine, and Bravo! in Minnesota.
Pennsylvania native Valerie Little began her musical studies in the Southern York Country Public Schools. She has often performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, Northrop Ballet Series, Orchestra Iowa, at the Schubert Club, Thursday Musical, and on the Music on the Hill chamber music series. She has appeared on stage with artists outside of the classical sphere such as Father John Misty, Sarah Brightman, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Kenny Rogers, Mannheim Steamroller, Jonathan Thulin, Rachael Lampa, Jordan Smith, Johnny Mathis, and The Bookends.
She is an artist-in-residence at the Apollo Music Festival in Houston, MN, where she also serves as Librarian and Webmaster. Notable solo performances include appearing with the York Symphony (PA) and the Mankato Symphony, as well as performing Quincy Porter's Suite for Viola Alone at the 38th International Viola Congress. She is also the violist for Mill City String Quartet, two-time MPR Class Notes Artists and recent first-time recipients of a Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Arts Learning Grant in support of their concerts series at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Shakopee.
As an educator, Valerie has mentored young musicians of Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, MNSOTA Middle Level Honors Orchestra, City of Lakes Waldorf School, Lancaster County Music Camp, Penn State Summer Honors Orchestra, YMF Summer Orchestra, and as a beginning group violin and private viola instructor at the University of Texas-Austin and the University of Minnesota.
Also an accomplished orchestra librarian, Dr. Little became a tenured member of the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2015, after serving as Acting Assistant Principal Librarian since 2009. She has also served as the orchestra’s ICSOM delegate and is the current artistic administrator of the Zellmer Trombone Competition. Valerie has also served as librarian for Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA), Mankato Symphony, Minnesota Bach Ensemble, and Madeline Island Chamber Music, as well as a library assistant at Round Top Music Festival.
Valerie holds Bachelor’s degrees in Viola Performance and English from Pennsylvania State University, a Master of Music in Viola Performance from the University of Texas-Austin, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Viola Performance from the University of Minnesota. Her mentors include Kathleen W. Yeater, Timothy Deighton, Roger Myers, Korey Konkol, Miro Quartet, and Barbara Westphal.
In her non-musical time, Valerie likes to travel with her husband, read, listen to true crime podcasts, and be a good mom to her two cats. She is proud supporter and volunteer for Crescent Cove, our nation’s third children’s hospice and respite center, in memory of Levi Ellis Shu, a child for whom she was honored to spend over five and a half years as a caregiver.
Recently named concertmaster of Dakota Valley Symphony, Erika Hoogeveen is beginning her 10th season with the orchestra. She has performed with a variety of other groups, including Kantorei, the Oratorio Society of Minnesota, South Dakota Symphony, Mankato Symphony, and Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra, and has worked with local artists such as Billy McLaughlin, Northern Darling, and most currently, Jelloslave.
Erika is the second violinist and a founding member of the Mill City String Quartet, established in 2007. Dedicated to serving the community through their performances, the group has twice been MPR Class Notes Artists and eagerly anticipates a third MPR residency this season in a pilot program working with high school orchestras. They have also been frequent performers at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Shakopee thanks to a generous Arts Learning Grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Committed to making female composers in the string quartet genre more visible, their current season includes a work by a female composer in each concert. With the quartet, Erika has performed in various local music series including Schubert Club and Thursday Musical.
Alongside her sister, Erika began her music education at age six in violin.
Together, they performed in countless church services, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and competitions. She received her Bachelor of Arts in violin performance at Dordt College under the tutelage of Rick Lohmann and Margaret Carpenter and her Master of Music in violin performance and Suzuki pedagogy at the University of Minnesota, studying with Sally O’Reilly.
An enthusiastic educator, Erika has been on the faculty of MacPhail Center for Music, St. Joseph’s School of Music, and Dordt College, as well as her own private studio in her home.
In her life outside of music, Erika is a homeschooling mom of four kids. She is an avid knitter, but also finds time for reading, running, and enjoying the outdoors. She and her music-loving husband, kids, and dog reside in St. Paul.
Cellist Ruth Marshall is active as an orchestral musician, chamber musician, soloist, and teacher around the United States. Born and raised in Seattle, she began cello and piano studies at age 4. After earning undergraduate degrees in Comparative History of Ideas and Music Theory & History at the University of Washington, she earned a Master of Music and Certificate in Performance from DePaul University. While a graduate student, she was also a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
Ms. Marshall has been principal cello of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra since 2013. She has been featured on the organization’s “Around the Town” chamber music outreach series, and will make her solo debut with the orchestra in the 2017-2018 season, playing Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme.” Since 2014, Ms. Marshall has been a member of the Britt Festival Orchestra, playing an annual three-week summer season in Jacksonville, OR. She has played as an associate musician with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, and as a guest musician with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theater, and Intermountain Opera.
Ms. Marshall made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2016, playing a full recital at Weill Recital Hall with her duo partner, pianist Garret Ross. Performing under the name “Artu Duo,” Ms. Marshall and Mr. Ross have concertized in the United Kingdom and across North America, including two performances on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series in Chicago IL, which were broadcast live on WFMT. Upcoming highlights of the 2017-2018 season include a return to the Schubert Club’s Courtroom Concert Series in St. Paul MN, and debut performances on the Thursday Musical Series in Minneapolis MN, and the Classical Thursdays Series in Brooklyn NY. Since 2013, Artu Duo has been the ensemble-in-residence at the Apollo Music Festival in Houston MN.
In the 2016-2017 season, Ms. Marshall joined the Mill City String Quartet, which has annually performed a four-concert series across the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area since its founding in 2007. As 2016-2017 “Class Notes Artists” for Minnesota Public Radio, the quartet traveled to elementary schools outside of the metro area, presenting an original educational program focused on form and emotional meaning in music. A Metropolitan Regional Arts Counsel grant provided the quartet with the opportunity to present each concert of the season to the residents of the Shakopee Women’s Correctional Facility.
Ms. Marshall is a committed and engaged cello teacher. She has been an instructor at Eastern Illinois University, Illinois State University, and DePaul University, and has been on the faculty of the Butler University Strings Scholars Camp, the Illinois Wesleyan University Cello Camp, and the Marrowstone Summer Music Festival. She has given guest master classes at Indiana State University, University of Louisiana, Millikin University, and the Apollo Music Festival. She currently lives in Bozeman MT with her husband Christopher Freeze, who is the Executive Director of the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra.