Pacifica Quartet

Recognized for its virtuosity and exuberant performance style, the Pacifica Quartet has achieved international recognition as one of the finest 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 for Best Chamber Music Performance. In 2017, the Quartet was appointed to lead the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at the Aspen Music Festival.

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.

Presenter testimonials:

"They have never played better; indeed, this is one of the very finest string quartets on the planet.” — Stephen Wogaman, President, Chamber Music Society of Detroit

"They are playing better than ever, if you can believe it. Their current configuration brings the group to an even higher level than before. There is no doubt in my mind that the Pacifica is in the top rank of American quartets onstage today.” — Daniel Levenstein, Director, Chamber Music San Francisco

“We have rarely experienced a concert or series of concerts as profound, beautiful and breathtaking as the Pacifica Quartet’s Beethoven cycle. They gave the best performance I have ever heard of Op. 59 No. 3, bar none. The fugue was absolutely incredible.” — Pat Zagelow, Executive Director, Portland Friends of Chamber Music

Recent Videos

September 2018

January 2019

Upcoming Projects for 2019-20 and 2020-21


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.


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


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.


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”


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)


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