Emerson String Quartet
The Emerson String Quartet stands alone in the history of string quartets with an unparalleled list of achievements over three decades: more than thirty acclaimed recordings since 1987, nine Grammy® Awards (including two for Best Classical Album, an unprecedented honor for a chamber music group), three Gramophone Awards, the coveted Avery Fisher Prize and cycles of the complete Beethoven, Bartók, Mendelssohn and Shostakovich string quartets in the world's musical capitals, from New York to London and Vienna. The Quartet has collaborated in concerts and on recordings with some of the greatest artists of our time. After 35 years of extensive touring and recording, the Emerson Quartet continues to perform with the same benchmark integrity, energy and commitment that it has demonstrated since it was formed in 1976.
In March 2011, Sony Classical announced an exclusive agreement with the Emerson String Quartet. The Quartet's debut album for the label, Mozart's Prussian Quartets K. 575, K. 589 and K. 590, will be released in October 2011 to coincide with a series of concerts at Wigmore Hall in London and Alice Tully Hall in New York City. This summer they return to esteemed music festivals across the United States, including Ravinia, Caramoor, Interlochen, Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals as well as Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival and Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon. In 2011-2012, its 35th season as an ensemble, the Emerson performs extensively throughout North America and Europe, with concerts in Boston, Vancouver, Denver, Philadelphia, Washington DC, San Diego, Houston and Ann Arbor and on tours taking them to Germany, Denmark, Slovenia, Austria, England, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and South Korea. The Emerson continues its residency at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, now in its 32nd season.
Since 2002, the Emerson has been Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University, coaching chamber music, giving master classes and providing instrumental instruction. The ensemble conducted its first three International Chamber Music Workshops at Stony Brook in June 2004, 2006, and 2008. In addition to teaching duties, the group performs several concerts during the year at Stony Brook's Staller Center for the Arts, and continues its educational affiliation with Carnegie Hall. The Quartet has conducted three Professional Training Workshops at Carnegie's Weill Music Institute, focusing on the Bartók quartets, quintets of Brahms and Dvorák and most recently the Beethoven quartets, in conjunction with the Perspective Series. In 2000, the Emerson was named ‘Ensemble of the Year' by Musical America, and in March 2004, became the 18th recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize -- another first for a chamber ensemble.
Throughout its history, the Emerson String Quartet has garnered an international reputation for groundbreaking chamber music projects and correlated recordings. In 1988, the Quartet attracted national attention with the presentation of the six Bartók quartets in a single evening for its Carnegie Hall debut. The Emerson's subsequent release of the cycle received the 1989 Grammy® Awards for "Best Classical Album" and "Best Chamber Music Performance" and Gramophone Magazine's 1989 "Record of the Year" -- the first time in the history of each award that a chamber music ensemble had ever received the top prize.
In March 1997, the Quartet released a seven-disc set of the complete Beethoven quartets and organized a series of performances over two seasons at New York's Lincoln Center entitled "Beethoven and the Twentieth Century," a total of eight concerts that each paired two Beethoven quartets with a twentieth-century composition. Initial reviews of this series were so strong that the remaining performances were completely sold out; the Beethoven recording earned a Grammy® Award for "Best Chamber Music Album."
In 2000, the Emerson performed the complete Shostakovich quartets at New York's Lincoln Center and in London, with a cycle divided between the Wigmore Hall and the Barbican. Each series culminated with The Noise of Time, a theatrical presentation directed by Simon McBurney (Street of Crocodiles, The Chairs) featuring the Quartet and Complicité, Mr. McBurney's theater company. Blending film, choreography, taped readings and live music, the multimedia work explored the haunted life of Dmitri Shostakovich through his 15th String Quartet. Since 2001, The Noise of Time has been repeated to great acclaim in Los Angeles, Berlin, Vienna, Paris and Moscow. In 2008, New York Magazine named The Noise of Time one of the most important contributions to the arts in New York since the inception of the magazine.
The theatrical nature of Shostakovich's music and its powerful effect on audiences led the Emerson to record the Shostakovich Quartets live during three summers of performances at the Aspen Music Festival. Meticulous editing eliminated virtually all background noise, and the recording on the Deutsche Grammophon label has been praised for its intensity and energy. The five-disc set won the 2000 Grammy® Awards for "Best Classical Album" and "Best Chamber Music Performance," as well as Gramophone Magazine's "Best Chamber Music Performance" Award for 2000.
"... with musicians like this there must be some hope for humanity." — The Times (London)
"America's greatest quartet." -Time Magazine
"The Emerson has the traditional string-quartet virtues; each player is a strongly characterized individual, but the ensemble is temperamentally as well as sonically in balance. The four minds play upon each other, and upon the work, in perfect harmony; the players are in tune in all senses of the phrase." -The New Yorker
"The Emerson gives us playing of exceptional technical accomplishment and an unusually wide expressive range. They continually offer new insights into some endlessly enthralling music. Do hear them." -Gramophone
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