American String Quartet
“The American String Quartet’s program was, simply put, a comprehensive display of ensemble mastery, of passion, precision and interpretive smarts in near perfect synchrony.” — The Los Angeles Times
“The finesse, the thoughtfulness and depth of the performance could not be surpassed.” — Berliner Morgenpost
“Luxurious, beautifully sculptured performances.” — The New York Times
Internationally recognized as one of the world’s finest quartets, the American String Quartet has spent decades honing the luxurious sound for which it is famous. The Quartet celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2014, and, in its years of touring, has performed in all fifty states and has appeared in the most important concert halls worldwide. The group’s presentations of the complete quartets of Beethoven, Schubert, Schoenberg, Bartók, and Mozart have won widespread critical acclaim, and their MusicMasters Complete Mozart String Quartets, performed on a matched quartet set of instruments by Stradivarius, are widely considered to have set the standard for this repertoire.
The Quartet’s 2016-17 season features two major projects: the first, with Salman Rushdie, sees the Quartet performing a new work by Paul Cantelon based on Rushdie’s novel The Enchantress of Florence while the author reads excerpts from the text; the other teams the Quartet with the National Book Award-winning author Phil Klay and the poet Tom Sleigh in a groundbreaking program combining music and readings that examines the effects of war on people, their hearts, and their minds.
The Quartet’s diverse activities have also included numerous international radio and television broadcasts; including a recent recording for the BBC; tours of Asia; and performances with the New York City Ballet, the Montreal Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Recent highlights include performances of an all-sextet program with Roberto and Andrès Díaz, many tours of South America, and performances of the complete Beethoven cycle of string quartets in Israel – a country in which the ensemble has performed five times in as many years.
The American’s additional extensive discography can be heard on the Albany, CRI, MusicMasters, Musical Heritage Society, Nonesuch, and RCA labels. Most recently the group released “Schubert’s Echo,” which pairs Schubert’s monumental last quartet with works bearing its influence by Second Viennese masters Alban Berg and Anton Webern. This repertoire posits that the creative line from the First to the Second Viennese Schools is continuous – and evident when these works are heard in the context of each other. The CD is on the NSS Music label, an enterprise created by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg devoted to intellectual projects that are frequently overlooked by more major labels.
The Quartet’s innovative approach to concert programming has won them a number of notable residencies in recent years, including “Beethoven the Contemporary” at the University of Michigan, “The Six Mozart Viola Quintets” at the Aspen Music Festival with Guarneri Quartet violist Michael Tree (broadcast live nationally via Chicago superstation WFMT), and a four-year cycle entitled “4-5-6…” at Princeton University, where the Quartet performed the complete quintets and sextets of Mozart and Brahms, joined in each concert by renowned guest artists.
As champions of new music, the American has given numerous premieres, including George Tsontakis’s 2015 Quartet No. 7.5, “Maverick,” Richard Danielpour’s Quartet No. 4, and Curt Cacioppo’s a distant voice calling. The premiere of Robert Sirota’s American Pilgrimage will take place in September 2016, and will be performed around the U.S. in the cities the work celebrates. In January 2009 the Quartet premièred Tobias Picker’s String Quartet No. 2 in New York City in celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Manhattan School of Music.
Formed when its original members were students at The Juilliard School, the American String Quartet’s career began with the group winning both the Coleman Competition and the Naumburg Award in the same year. Resident quartet at the Aspen Music Festival since 1974 and at the Manhattan School of Music in New York since 1984, the American has also served as resident quartet at the Taos School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
July 2016 – Please do not edit without permission.