Hailed by the Boston Globe as “a national treasure,” the MANHATTAN STRING QUARTET is celebrating its 47th season.
Well known for their performances of 20th-century “classics,” the Manhattan Quartet has established a significant international reputation with regular concert appearances throughout North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia. After a series of concerts in Moscow and Leningrad in the fall of 1985, the Quartet became the first American classical ensemble to give a full tour of the Soviet Union under that era’s new cultural agreement. Their first sold-out series of performances in 1986 was followed by an equally successful tour in 1989. In 2005, the Quartet made its first tour of Asia and played to sold-out houses in Nagoya and Tokyo, Japan. Notable among its many recordings is the complete cycle of 15 Shostakovich string quartets that TIME Magazine called “One of the most important musical events of 1991.”
The group has been Quartet-in-Residence at Colgate University since 1988 and has held similar posts at the Manhattan School of Music, Cornell University, Grinnell College, Western Connecticut State University, the Chamber Music Institute in Racine, Wisconsin, Connecticut’s Music Mountain Festival and Michigan’s Interlochen National Music Camp (for 22 summers). The Quartet’s activities include hosting its own annual KentMusic String Quartet Conference (established in 1989) and annual European conferences focusing on major works in the string quartet repertoire that are hosted in the cities where these pieces were composed.
The Manhattan Quartet has established itself as an advocate of new music through the commission and performance of new works from composers, most recently including Laura Kaminsky (American Nocturne), Eric Moe (The Salt of Broken Tears), Craig Walsh (String Quartet), Steve Ricks (The Pure Forces’ Gravity), and Laurie Altman (Shirakawa River Song).
In 2011, in collaboration with the Sarajevo Academy of Music, the Manhattan Quartet established the Sarajevo Chamber Music Festival. Centered on teaching, master classes and concerts, the Festival program endeavors to bring chamber music to the Bosnian people, to celebrate the Sarajevo Academy of Music’s accomplished faculty and to give local music students the sense of Bosnia as a place where positive international attention, collaboration and recognition is possible.
The Manhattan Quartet’s distinguished catalogue of recordings includes the complete Shostakovich quartets; a Mozart/Beethoven pairing of live concert recordings; Schubert’s Quartets Nos. 14 & 15 (Death and the Maiden); Adagio for Strings, featuring Dvorak’s American Quartet; popular encores by Turina, Wolf, Puccini, Kern, Gershwin and Barber; and Carl Maria von Weber’s Quintet for Clarinet and Strings with clarinetist Jon Manasse.