The Eakins String Quartet wants to bring a wider audience to the chamber works of American composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Violist Osman Kivrak, cellist Robert Park and violinists Laura Roelofs and Teri Lazar have played everything from Barto'k to Shostakovich, but they prefer playing the virtually unknown, tightly constructed and highly emotional American pieces from the late romantic and early modernism eras.

"Largely, it's their pioneering spirit that attracts you to the music," says Park, who stresses that there is more to the era's American music than Gershwin, Copland and Ives. More conservative than their fellow British peers, Park adds that the U.S. composers "were imaginative in their uniquely American way." They were mostly educated in Europe, but Park reminds us that they have not forgotten their roots -- a strong streak of "American inventiveness" runs throughout their pieces.

In preparation for the upcoming Banff International Competition, the quartet will present a varied program that includes "Music for Four Stringed Instruments" by Charles Martin Loeffler (American, 1861-1935); Mozart's Quartet in C major, K. 465; Beethoven's Quartet No. 11, Opus 95, "Quarteto Serioso"; and the premiere of the string quartet version of Washington composer Maurice Saylor's "Prelude for Strings."

The performance will begin tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the River Road Unitarian Church in Bethesda. Admission is free.