The Western Illinois University President's International String Quartet was brought about through an initiative of the WIU String Faculty and the Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication. The planning for the formation of the first quartet began in the fall of 2004 with the first quartet being in place for Fall Semester 2005. The students who comprised this first President's International String Quartet came from Ecuador and Macedonia. They receive a full-tuition scholarship as well as board and room to attend WIU for four years or until completion of the bachelor's degree. Most of these students have also served as principal string players in the WIU Symphony and Chamber Orchestras.

Potential students are recruited from all over the world and have come from as far away as Malaysia and the Philippines. The quartet members have proven to be excellent musicians and also academically gifted, one of whom, Andrea Beltran Landers, was named Departmental Scholar for the School of Music her graduating year.

The quartet rehearses several times a week and is coached two hours weekly by their mentor Dr. Istvan Szabo, Associate Professor of Viola at Western. They prepare and perform a major recital program each semester, with standard string quartet repertoire. Many quartets of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven have been performed as well as quartets of Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Samuel Barber, Alexander Borodin, Dmitri Shostakovich, Aaron Copland and Phillip Glass. They have also performed works by William Grant Still, Hugo Wolf, Arnold Bax, Ástor Piazzolla, and fugues from the Art of the Fugue of Johann Sebastian Bach. They also have an extensive repertoire of lighter works for more informal occasions such a receptions, weddings and dinner engagements.

The quartet performs regularly for numerous WIU functions as well as gives concerts in various venues throughout Illinois.

The current members of the President's International String Quartet are

  • Gisselle Marie Sanchez Diaz, violinist from the Dominican Republic
  • Alice Müller, violinist from Romania
  • Maria Angelica Gonzalez Iraheta, violist from Venezuela
  • Nathalie Hernandez-Ayala, cellist from Mexico

Former quartet members:

  • Alex Jimbo Viteri, violin, Ecuador
  • Ardiana Iseni, violin, Macedonia
  • Manuel Ignacio Moreno, viola, Ecuador
  • Juan Carlos Moreno, cello, Ecuador
  • Javier Escalera Soria, violin, Bolivia
  • JiaRong Gan, violin, Malaysia
  • Andrea Beltran Landers, cello, Peru
  • Grazzia Sagastume, viola, Honduras
  • Max Pessoa, violin, Brazil
  • Joseph Valdes, violin, Phillipines
  • Samantha Flores, cello, Mexico
  • Mila Gallardo, viola, Equador
  • Luciana Hontilă, violin, Romania
  • Giorgi Khatalev, viola, The Republic of Georgia
  • Vlad Hontilă, violin, Romania
  • Erik Ghukasyan, violin, Armenia/Mexico

Scholarship Opportunity for String Players

WIU is happy to announce opportunities of full undergraduate scholarships (tuition waiver plus a stipend) for an international violin and viola student. The scholarship covers the cost of studies and provides additional funding for four years, which will enable the student to earn a Bachelor’s of Music degree. I am providing a link below describing the necessary requirements for this scholarship and admission to WIU’s School of Music.

The recipient of this scholarship will be expected to begin study at WIU in the Fall 2020 (late August 2020) and will participate in the President's International String Quartet, a prestigious quartet composed of highly talented international undergraduate students. Early applications are strongly encouraged.

For more information, please contact the School of Music: Music@wiu.edu or (309) 298-1544