Inspiring performances, luminous sound, and exceptional musicianship are the hallmarks of the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet. Renowned for its dynamic interpretations and polished, expansive colors, the group has rapidly distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation. The Quartet has appeared at the world’s most important venues since its founding in 2002.
Following a 2018 summer season that had the ensemble crossing North America for appearances at music festivals from Banff to Bard, the Parker Quartet began its fifth year in-residence at Harvard University, endowed with the prestigious title of Preceptor. The Quartet’s 2018-19 season continues its trademark busy schedule with performances and residencies scheduled around the United States and Europe, including at the University of Iowa, the University of Chicago, the Wigmore Hall, and the University of South Carolina. 2017-18 featured performances for the Schubert Club, Skidmore College, St. John’s College, and Kansas City’s Friends of Chamber Music.
Other recent highlights include the project “Schubert Effect” in collaboration with pianist Shai Wosner at the 92ndStreet Y, the premiere of a new string quartet by American composer Augusta Read Thomas as part of the Quartet’s annual four-concert series at Harvard University, and appearances at Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, the Slee Series in Buffalo, and New York’s Lincoln Center Great Performers series. The Quartet also continues to be a strong supporter of violist Kim Kashkashian’s project Music for Food by participating in concerts throughout the United States for the benefit of various food banks and shelters.
The Parker Quartet has distinguished itself with acclaimed recordings for Nimbus, Zig-Zag Territoires, Innova Records, and Naxos. The Quartet’s most recent recording featuring Mendelssohn’s Quartets Op. 44, Nos. 1 and 3, was widely lauded by the international press. The Quartet’s debut commercial recording of Bartók’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 5 for Zig-Zag Territoires (July 2007) won praise from Gramophone: “The Parkers’ Bartók spins the illusion of spontaneous improvisation… they have absorbed the language; they have the confidence to play freely with the music and the instinct to bring it off.” Their Naxos recording of György Ligeti’s complete works for string quartet won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Chamber MusicPerformance (the last string quartet to win this category). In April 2016 Augusta Read Thomas’s world-premiere recording of Helix Spirals for string quartet on“Of Being is a Bird” was released on NimbusRecords.
Recent collaborations include those with acclaimed artists like violist Kim Kashkashian, with whom the Parker will record this season; violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg; pianists Anne-Marie McDermott, Orion Weiss, Vijay Iyer, and Shai Wosner; members of the Silk Road Ensemble; Kikuei Ikeda of the Tokyo String Quartet; clarinetist and composer Jörg Widmann; and clarinetist Charles Neidich.
Founded and currently based in Boston, the Parker Quartet’s numerous honors include winning the Concert Artists Guild Competition, the Grand Prix and Mozart Prize at France’s Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition, and Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award. Now Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music, and also in-residence at UofSC School of Music, the Quartet’s numerous residencies have included serving as Artists-in-Residence at the University of St. Thomas (2012–2014), Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Minnesota (2011– 2012), Quartet-in-Residence with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (2008-2010), and as the first-ever Artists-in-Residence with Minnesota Public Radio(2009-2010).
The Parker Quartet’s members hold graduate degrees in performance and chamber music from the New England Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School, and the Quartet was part of the New England Conservatory’s prestigious Professional String Quartet Training Program from 2006–2008. Some of their most influential mentors include the original members of the Cleveland Quartet, Kim Kashkashian, György Kurtág, Zakhar Bron, Robert Lipsett, Mark Steinberg, and Rainer Schmidt.
August 2018 – Please do not edit without permission.
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After spending an intensive month performing and teaching side-by-side at Banff’s “Evolution of the String Quartet” program this summer, the Parker Quartet and JACK Quartet were eager to perform together again. While at Banff, the two groups premiered a string octet by the up-and-coming composer Zosha Di Castri which they’ll be touring together in 19-20. Both groups are known for the high quality of their performances of modern music, with the Parker receiving a Grammy Award for their Ligeti recording and the JACK being named the Ensemble of the Year by Musical America, as well as receiving the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. Renowned for its dynamic interpretations and polished, expansive colors, the Parker has rapidly distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation. In 2017-18 the Parker Quartet began its fourth year in-residence at Harvard University with the new prestigious title of Preceptor. Dedicated to the performance, commissioning, and spread of new string quartet music and works, the JACK is “a musical vehicle of choice to the next great composers who walk among us." (Toronto Star)
Having recently recorded an album together for ECM, the Parker Quartet is available on very select dates together with the sensational violist Kim Kashkashian. Repertoire possibilities include Mozart, Dvořák, and Brahms.
2019-2020 Program Choices
Mozart: Quartet in D major, K. 499, “Hoffmeister”
Schoenberg: Quartet No. 1 in D minor, Op. 7
One would assume that only differences would be found in a juxtaposition of the First and Second Viennese schools, but the thrill of discovering that they share the same roots is what makes this program unique. This is particularly true in this instance because of Schoenberg’s first masterpiece, his Quartet No. 1 in D minor, which was written well before he dived into atonality. It is through and through a romantic work that pushes romanticism to its edge. It combines the drama and scale of a Wagner opera with Mahler’s brilliant orchestration. Mozart’s “Hoffmeister” quartet, with its effervescent, creative spirit, is a wonderful counterpart to the Schoenberg and reminds us of how infectious Mozart’s music can be.
Esa-Pekka Salonen: Homunculus for String Quartet
Szymanowski: Quartet No. 2, Op. 56, M64
Beethoven: Quartet in A minor, Op. 132
This program centers around the mystery and hope of birth (Salonen), and the revelatory thanksgiving for life (Beethoven).
Haydn: Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 33, No. 2, “The Joke”
Lutoslawski : Quartet OR Shostakovich: Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 122
Dvořák: Quartet No. 13 in G major, Op. 106
Fun, wit, and deception threads its way through a series of works that highlight the unexpected. Haydn is full of humor, Lutoslawski is a master of creating suspense, and Dvořák constantly surprises us with harmonic twists and turns.
Bartók: Quartet No. 1
Shostakovich: Quartet No. 9 in E-flat major, Op. 117
Beethoven: Quartet in B-Flat major, Op. 18, No. 6 OR Strauss: Sextet from Capriccio, Op. 85
Janácek: Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata”
Brahms: String Sextet No. 2 in G major, Op. 36
Richard O’Neill, viola
Edward Arron, cello
Brahms’ G major Sextet is one of the Quartet’s favorite works in the chamber music repertoire. The Parker Quartet is thrilled to collaborate on this sextet, a work of exploration and sublimity, with Richard O’Neill and Edward Arron - two of the most significant artists of their generation.