November 8, 2019

Pegasus String Quartet, a new graduate student ensemble in the School of Performing Arts, is comprised of four hand-selected musicians in a new track of the M.A. in Music. Launched in fall of 2019, the string quartet is a two-year program and graduate assistantship with curriculum emphasizing intensive work and performance opportunities in chamber music concerts and large ensemble including the Orlando Philharmonic. The quartet program is led by world-renowned violinist Ayako Yonetani, a professor at UCF and a member of Japan’s premier chamber ensemble, Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra.

“UCF is a world-class music program and the addition of a resident ensemble like the string quartet further enhances our reputation,” says director of the School of Performing Arts, Michael Wainstein. “Under the direction of Ayako Yonetani, we are now able to reach into the community and the region, bringing even more accomplished musicians to the Central Florida music scene.”

“This new ensemble was an initiative of SPA director Michael Wainstein and CAH Dean Jeffrey Moore as a way to give added emphasis to our graduate string program,” says SPA associate director and graduate programs coordinator Keith Koons. “We recruited heavily for the three positions of violin, viola and cello and attracted very talented students for the inaugural ensemble. The Pegasus String Quartet gives an added dimension to the overall music program.”

The quartet is led by Yonetani on violin, with students Ana Done, violin, Adrienne Bythwood, viola, and Zachary Larson, cello. The students were recruited specifically for this quartet and come from all over the country, concentrating specifically on pursuing a career in string music professionally. On Thursday, the quartet will play their debut concert at UCF.


Ana Done, violin

Hometown: Romania

Came to UCF from: Baylor University

Began playing: age 7

Q: What inspired you to be a string musician?

A: My mom wanted me to be different and to have something she never did, so we moved from the country to the city. A lot of sacrifices were made and it wasn’t easy but now I’m here because them. Her and I lived in a small apartment in the city while my dad worked in the country, and we’d walk to the arts school together. The violin felt right from the first time I ever played it in front of people at the age of 8. Music really taught me how to be patient with myself and how to appreciate the little things. Music holds good memories for me – like my mom holding me on her lap as I practiced and worked through difficult passages that I just couldn’t understand, or the first time I ever felt that someone believed that I could be good at something. I kept up with music and with the violin because I love the adrenaline, and the emotional effect it has on those who listen as well as how I feel after I play. I love seeing what my playing can stir in someone else’s heart. I’ve had people with tears in their eyes hug me, and I’ve had people who felt peace and joy too. I wouldn’t want my playing to only depress people, so those happy moments are ones to live for too!

Q: What do you love about the program?

A: I love that I’m a part of a group. It challenges me to get out of my box and work with others as opposed to just with myself. We have to communicate more, work together, and draw off each other’s musical energy. It’s a great flow and I love that the program allows me to mature in those social areas.


Adrienne Bythwood, viola

Hometown: Miami

Came to UCF from: Georgia State University

Years playing: 12

Q: What inspired you to be a string musician?

A: My love for television show soundtracks made me want to pursue music. When I was getting ready to enter high school as a freshman, I knew that music was one thing that I was truly passionate about and I could not see myself doing anything else. I started on violin and I still occasionally play it but, I usually perform as a violist.

Q: What do you love about the program?

A: I love working with Dr. Yonetani. She is immensely talented and an amazing teacher. The opportunity to play in the graduate chamber music program was very appealing. I have also really appreciated both students and the faculty making me feel as welcome as possible my first semester, even with the challenge of balancing the workload while maintaining a regular practice schedule.


Zachary Larson, cello

Hometown: Rapid City, South Dakota

Came to UCF from: Boston University

Began playing: cello since 4th grade, also plays the tuba professionally!

Q: What inspired you to pursue music?

A: I never knew I’d pursue a career in music, until I attended Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. The level of the orchestral experience I had there was truly awe-inspiring for me. I fell in love with the genre, and new I had to pursue it.

Q: What is challenging about the program?

A: My responsibilities as a graduate student and graduate assistant have proved difficult. The workload can be exhaustive, but it is beneficial. It is always difficult, yet exciting to “find your sound” as a chamber group.

Q: Why did you choose UCF?

A: I honestly never thought I would end up in Florida, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity when it came around. The combination of a unique new chamber program, world class teachers, and an enriching community aided my decision to come to UCF.


Pegasus String Quartet
Thursday, November 14
Rehearsal Hall Auditorium
This is event is free and open to the public, no ticket required.

See the full schedule of UCF Music concerts and performances at music.ucf.edu.