About
 

Recognized for its virtuosity, exuberant performance style, and often-daring repertory choices, over the past twenty-five years the Pacifica Quartet has achieved international recognition as one of the finest chamber ensembles performing today. Named the quartet-in-residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in March 2012, the Pacifica was previously the quartet-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and received a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. In 2017, the Pacifica Quartet was appointed to lead the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Formed in 1994, the Pacifica Quartet quickly won chamber music’s top competitions, including the 1998 Naumburg Chamber Music Award. In 2002 the ensemble was honored with Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award and the appointment to Lincoln Center’s The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two), and in 2006 was awarded a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. Also in 2006 the Quartet was featured on the cover of Gramophone and heralded as one of “five new quartets you should know about,” the only American quartet to make the list. And in 2009, the Quartet was named “Ensemble of the Year” by Musical America.

The Pacifica Quartet has carved a niche for itself as the preeminent interpreter of string quartet cycles, harnessing the group’s singular focus and incredible stamina to portray each composer’s evolution, often over the course of just a few days. Having given highly acclaimed performances of the complete Carter cycle in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Houston; the Mendelssohn cycle in Napa, Australia, New York, and Pittsburgh; and the Beethoven cycle in New York, Denver, St. Paul, Chicago, Napa, and Tokyo (in an unprecedented presentation of five concerts in three days at Suntory Hall), the Quartet presented the monumental Shostakovich cycle in Chicago, New York, Montreal and at London’s Wigmore Hall. The Quartet has been widely praised for these cycles, with critics calling the concerts “brilliant,” “astonishing,” “gripping,” and “breathtaking.” In the 2018-19 season, the Pacifica Quartet continues its exploration of the Beethoven cycle at the National Arts Centre (Ottawa) and for the Portland Friends of Chamber Music and the Shostakovich cycle for Chamber Music San Francisco and Skidmore College.

Other season highlights include performances at Shriver Hall with Marc-André Hamelin, a Florida tour together with Sharon Isbin, and appearances on North America’s major chamber-music series, including concerts in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, and Vancouver.

An ardent advocate of contemporary music, the Pacifica Quartet commissions and performs many new works including those by Keeril Makan and Shulamit Ran, the latter in partnership with the Music Accord consortium, London’s Wigmore Hall, and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. The work – entitled Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory – had its New York debut as part of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center series.

In 2008 the Quartet released its Grammy Award-winning recording of Carter’s quartets Nos. 1 and 5 on the Naxos label; the 2009 release of quartets Nos. 2, 3, and 4 completed the two-CD set. Cedille Records recently released the third of four volumes comprising the entire Shostakovich cycle, along with other contemporary Soviet works, to rave reviews: “The playing is nothing short of phenomenal.” (Daily Telegraph, London) Recent projects include recording Leo Ornstein’s rarely-heard piano quintet with Marc-André Hamelin with an accompanying tour, the Brahms piano quintet with the legendary pianist Menahem Pressler, and the Brahms and Mozart clarinet quintets with the New York Philharmonic’s principal clarinetist, Anthony McGill.

The members of the Pacifica Quartet live in Bloomington, IN, where they serve as quartet-in-residence and full-time faculty members at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Prior to their appointment, the Quartet was on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana from 2003 to 2012, and also served as resident performing artist at the University of Chicago for seventeen years.

The Pacifica Quartet is endorsed by D’Addario and proudly uses their strings.

For more information on the Quartet, please visit www.pacificaquartet.com.

June 2018 – Please do not edit without permission.

Click here to download biography

 
 
Images

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Videos
 
Press

The Sydney Morning Herald

June 19, 2017

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

November 11, 2014

Chicago Classical Review

January 18, 2016

The New York Times

November 9, 2014

 
Projects
Pacifica Women's Suffrage.jpg

The Pacifica Quartet will be offering an especially topical program in honor of the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which allowed all U.S. women the right to vote. As a celebration and remembrance for the 100th anniversary of this landmark event, the Pacifica has created the following program for performance in the 2020-21 season:

Women’s Suffrage: A Musical Retrospective
Amy Beach: String Quartet, Op. 89 (1929)
Ruth Crawford Seeger: String Quartet (1931)
Jennifer Higdon: Voices (written for the Pacifica in 1993)
*****
Florence Price: Andante moderato from Quartet in G major (1929)
Fanny Mendelssohn: String Quartet in E-flat major

The program features string quartets written by prominent American female composers around the time of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, a work commissioned by the Pacifica Quartet from one of the prominent female composers of our time, and a prominent masterpiece written by a pioneering female composer during the height of the pro-suffrage sentiment. These works – representing women from Europe and the United States, living in different eras – cover a vast territory of different thoughts, styles, and opinions. In short, the differences represented here are exactly why our world needs the voices of all women heard and why granting the right to vote to all women was a tremendously important step toward equality.


Schoenberg.jpg

In 2020-21 the Pacifica Quartet presents the complete Schoenberg cycle of string quartets in two concerts, when they will be joined by Lawrence Dutton and Paul Watkins from the Emerson String Quartet for Schoenberg’s masterpiece, Verklärte Nacht and a mezzo-soprano for the moving second quartet. The programs track Schoenberg’s development, as he breaks free from the romantic idiom and developing his own voice:

Program I:
Quartet in D major (1897)
Quartet No. 1 (1905)
****
Quartet No. 2 (1908) - with mezzo TBD

Program II:
Quartet No. 3 (1927)
Quartet No. 4 (1936)
*****
Verklärte Nacht (1899) - with Lawrence Dutton and Paul Watkins

 

Ben Shirley.jpg

The Pacifica Quartet and clarinetist Anthony McGill are teaming up to premiere a new clarinet quintet from the fascinating composer Ben Shirley for the 2020-21 season. Ben was homeless for over two years, living in a shelter on Los Angeles’ infamous Skid Row. His determination to beat his addictions and to follow his passion for music led him down the path he’s currently on. You can hear more about his remarkable story here.

The Denver Friends of Chamber Music and the Chamber Music Society of Detroit – longtime supporters of the Pacifica – are leading the commission. We’re looking for one additional organization to join the consortium in helping to fund this remarkable new work.

 

Pacifica & Sharon.png

After first teaming up at the Aspen Music Festival, the Pacifica Quartet and the iconic guitarist Sharon Isbin – who has been called “one of the best guitarists in the world” (Boston Globe) – were eager to perform together again, and the quintet has been thrilling audiences since. Following their success on the road, these Grammy Award-winning artists have recorded the following program for Cedille Records, slated for release in Fall 2019:

Turina: La Oracion del Torero, Op. 34
Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Guitar Quintet in F major, Op. 143
*****
Vivaldi: Concerto in D major for guitar and strings, RV 93
Puccini: I Crisantemi
Boccherini: Guitar Quintet No. 4 in D major, G. 448, “Fandango”

 

Julia Wolfe.jpg

The Pacifica and the cellist Johannes Moser are reprising their hugely successful program featuring Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Wolfe’s cello quintet. The work, written in response to Schubert’s monumental Cello Quintet and titled Splendid Hopes, was a compassionate nod to Schubert’s own words when he was dying: “Think of a man, I say, whose splendid hopes have come to nothing, to whom the happiness of love and friendship offers nothing but acutest pain.”

The last tour the fivesome undertook together offered amazed audiences a window into the deeply felt collaboration between the extraordinary Moser and the Pacifica Quartet, whose “interpretation was bracingly robust and full of vigor, a sharp reminder of how fiercely Schubert’s creative fires were burning…” (Star Tribune).


Marc-Andre.jpg

The Pacifica’s longtime collaborator Marc-Andre Hamelin – who “ranks among the small handful of performers in every generation whose abilities defy the imagination.” (Toronto Star) – appears with the Quartet in a program built around Hamelin’s piano quintet which he wrote for his collaboration with the Pacifica in 2017. The quintet is the centerpiece of a program that opens with a string quartet and closes with one of the major piano quintets.

Haydn: Quartet in F major, Op. 77, No. 2
Hamelin: Piano Quintet
*****
Franck: Piano Quintet in F minor or Schumann: Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44

 
Program Choices
 

2019-2020 Program Choices

Program I
Bartók: Quartet No. 1
David Dzubay: Commission
*****
Beethoven: Quartet in F major, Op. 135

Program II
Beethoven: Quartet in D major, Op. 18, No. 3
Shostakovich: Quartet No. 1
*****
Mendelssohn: Quartet in F minor, Op. 80

Program III
Shostakovich: Quartet No. 7
Shulamit Ran: Quartet No. 3, “Glitter, Shards, Doom, Memory”
*****
Beethoven: Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 130, with the Grosse Fuge, Op. 133

2020-2021 Program Choices

Program I: Women’s Suffrage (1920): A Musical Retrospective
Amy Beach: String Quartet, Op. 89 (1929)
Ruth Crawford Seeger: String Quartet (1931)
Jennifer Higdon: Voices (1993) commissioned by the Pacifica Quartet
*****
Florence Price: Andante moderato from Quartet in G major (1929)
Fanny Mendelssohn: String Quartet in E-flat major

Program II
Haydn: Quartet in F major, Op. 77, No. 2
Carter: Quartet No. 2
*****
Beethoven: Quartet in F major, Op. 59, No. 1, “Razumovsky”

Program III
Beethoven: Quartet in G major, Op. 18, No. 2
Shostakovich: Quartet No. 9 in E-flat major, Op. 117
*****
Schoenberg: Quartet in D major

Program IV
Mendelssohn: Quartet in A minor, Op. 13
Ligeti: Quartet No. 1
*****
Beethoven: Quartet in F major, Op. 135 

SCHOENBERG CYCLE

Program I
Quartet in D major (1897)
Quartet No. 1 (1905)
*****
Quartet No. 2 (1908) – with mezzo-soprano TBD

Program II
Quartet No. 3 (1927)
Quartet No. 4 (1936)
*****
Verklärte Nacht (1899) – with Larry Dutton, viola, and Paul Watkins, cello