Violinist Peter Marsh and cellist Marius May will be the newest members of the locally based Sequoia String Quartet, it was announced Sunday night at a gala fund raiser in the Sheraton Grande Hotel.

Marsh and May will officially join the Sequoia, replacing first violinist Yoko Matsuda and cellist Robert Martin when the present ensemble plays its final concert in July. Matsuda and Martin announced their intention to leave the group early last month, citing individual career objectives as reasons for departing.

Both new players will take up residence in Los Angeles.

Marsh, a past member of the Lennox Quartet (1959-81) and the Philadelphia String Quartet (1981-82), will leave his position as professor of music at Indiana University later this summer. He also is serving his fifth year as artistic director of the Cal State Long Beach Summer Institute of Chamber Music, where he will present free lectures on the solo violin music of Bach tonight and Tuesday and will appear in concert with the present Sequoia players Friday night.


Marsh explained that his selection was made by the two remaining Sequoians--violinist Miwako Watanabe and violist James Dunham--in late April. At 54, he becomes the oldest member of the group.

“They (Watanabe and Dunham) thought I wouldn’t be interested,” the violinist noted. “They knew I was already in a quartet at Indiana (the Berkshire Quartet) and that I’d be crazy to leave the university, which has the best music school in the country.

“All that is true--I had a heavy teaching schedule at Indiana. I love to teach, but I love to play quartets more. This group will be by far the finest I’ve ever been in.”

May, an English cellist all but unknown on the West Coast, has established an important career as a soloist in Europe, according to Marsh. May was one of the last of the 15 cellists heard by Watanabe, Dunham and Marsh during two weeks of auditioning here and in New York last month. He flew in from London for the Sunday night gala and was unavailable for comment. The cellist, who is in his late 20s, becomes the youngest member of the Sequoia.


The reconstituted quartet will not perform before the public until the fall, Marsh explained. “We will open our (Sequoia Quartet . . . and Friends) series at the Japan America Theatre in October.” Future performing plans include an East Coast tour in November and a series of concerts in Israel next Spring. In addition, the Sequoia will maintain residences at Cal State Long Beach and CalArts.