Over the last decade, the University of Missouri Saint Louis has become an unlikely beacon for culture in St. Louis. The school houses the city’s NPR affiliate, hosts a beyond-impressive jazz festival and employs the world-renowned Arianna String Quartet as faculty. The group could have treated its May 4 concert at the college’s Touhill Performing Arts Center (One University Boulevard; 314-516-4949) as an end-of-semester bash, but instead assembled a rather dark program. Famous Last Words showcases works written by composers as they approached death. The material itself is less morbid than the concept, with the buoyant pair of Mendelssohn's Andante and Scherzo, Op. 81 and Beethoven’s Quartet In F Major, Op. 135 sandwiched around Bartók’s knotty Quartet No. 6. Naturally, these pieces are destined to shine in the expert hands of the nimble octopus that is the Arianna String Quartet, making this is an event not to be missed -- even if it’s the last thing you do.
Fri., May 4, 8 p.m., 2012