On Sunday July 21, 2019, the Emerson String Quartet presented a concert completing and celebrating the 15th season of Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival. The members of the Emerson Quartet have had a significant impact on the experience of our students since the Festival’s founding; each year we have invited members of the group to give master classes. We were delighted to present a performance by this distinguished ensemble.The program included the Dvorak Quartet in E flat, Op. 51 (“Slavonic”), the Barber Quartet, Op. 11, with its celebrated Adagio, and the second Beethoven Razumovsky Quartet, Op. 59 no. 2, in E minor. Students enjoyed seating on stage 'in the round' during the final evening of GMCMF 2019.
The Emerson String Quartet, comprised of violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton and cellist Paul Watkins, has maintained its stature as one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles for more than four decades. The quartet has made more than 30 acclaimed recordings, and has been honored with nine Grammys® (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, and Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year”. The Emerson frequently collaborates with some of today’s most esteemed composers to premiere new works, keeping the string quartet art form alive and relevant. They have partnered in performance with stellar soloists including Reneé Fleming, Barbara Hannigan, Evgeny Kissin, Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman.
During the 2018-2019 season the Emerson performed as the quartet in residence at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. for its 40th season and returns to perform with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The group’s North American appearances include a performance at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, and appears around North America that include the Library of Congress in Washington DC, Denver, Vancouver, Seattle, Houston, Indianapolis, Detroit, the Yale School of Music and University of Georgia, among others. The quartet also embarks on two European tours, performing in major venues in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. During the summer of 2019, the Emerson will perform at Tanglewood, Ravinia, and the Aspen Music Festivals.
The Emerson’s extensive recordings range from Bach to Harbison, including the complete string quartets of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bartok, Webern and Shostakovich, as well as multi-CD sets of the major works of Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Dvorak. The ensemble has also recorded music by Tchaikovsky, Smetana, Debussy, Ravel, Barber and Ives. In April 2017, the Emerson released its latest album, Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell, the first CD issue on the new label, Decca Gold. The Quartet has commissioned and performed new works from composers such as Thomas Adés, Kaija Saariaho,Wolfgang Rihm, Mark-Anthony Turnage, and Edgar Meyer.
Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson was one of the first quartets whose violinists alternated in the first chair position. The quartet, which took its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, balances busy performing careers with a commitment to teaching and serves as Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. In 2013, cellist Paul Watkins, a distinguished soloist, award-wining conductor, and devoted chamber musician, joined the original members of the Emerson Quartet. The reconfigured group has been praised by critics and fans alike around the world. In spring 2016, full-time Stony Brook faculty members Philip Setzer and Lawrence Dutton received the honor of Distinguished Professor, and part-time faculty members Eugene Drucker and Paul Watkins were awarded the title of Honorary Distinguished Professor. The Emerson had previously received honorary doctorates from Middlebury College, the College of Wooster, Bard College and the University of Hartford. In January 2015, the Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America’s highest honor, in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field.