• The DaPonte String Quartet will perform in Bethel this month, and talk about the “Art of the String Quartet,” as part of their continuing Western Maine Initiative, to encourage young string players and bring world-class chamber music to the area.

    Last November they performed for students at Minot Elementary School and Paris Elementary School. They also conducted a master class with students from Gould Academy, followed by a performance with the students at Bingham Hall.

    This month they will perform a special benefit concert of Haydn (String Quartet in C Major, Op 20, No. 2) and Beethoven (String Quartet No. 7 in F Major Op. 59 No. 1) in Bethel. A share of the proceeds will go to support a fledgling group called Mahoosuc Strings, which serves children in the Bethel area.

    Amateur cellist Lee Smith of Bethel started Mahoosuc Strings several years ago “because there was no opportunity for kids in our school district (SAD 44) to learn or even to encounter string instruments.” Its mission is to “provide instruments and help facilitate instruction to any child who is interested in playing.”

    So far Mahoosuc Strings has found and repaired a number of instruments that it then donated to eager young players. It has also helped 16 students find teachers. Its significant need right now is for instruction in ensemble playing. Proceeds from the DSQ concert will help to fund these lessons.

    “It will be a huge boost to our program here,” says Smith.

    The Saturday afternoon concert will conclude with a special session with the Daponte String Quartet on “The Art of the String Quartet.” Audience members are invited to stay after the concert for this personal look at how a string quartet forms (and stays together), how it functions without a “leader” and how the quartet came to be named “The Best Music Group in Maine,” after moving to the Mid-Coast from Philadelphia nearly 25 years ago, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

    The DSQ performances and school visits are made possible in part by a grant from the Betterment Fund.

    The concert is March 17 at 3:30 p.m. at the West Parish Congregational Church, 32 Church St., Bethel. Tickets are $15 at the door or $12 in advance at www.DaPonte.org. Anyone under 21 is free. More information is at 529-4555.

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