New York, NY – As the classical community begins to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary in the 2019-2020 season, the world-renowned Emerson String Quartet kicks off the opening of The Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival on Saturday, June 15, 2019 with an unforgettable journey of the complete Beethoven Cycle. Presenting Six concerts in one week, the Cycle "provides a musical biography of Beethoven’s life, highlighting milestones in his musical development," notes the Emerson's violinist, Eugene Drucker. The nine-time GRAMMY Award-winning Quartet has firmly established its authority in interpreting Beethoven’s string quartets since its first Beethoven Cycle performed in 1980 through its complete recording of his quartets on Deutsche Grammophon which won a 1998 GRAMMY Award. Praised by NPR, their 7-CD boxset of Beethoven: The String Quartets "highlights their brilliance and sheer ability," and The Gramophone opines, "They continually offer new insights into some endlessly enthralling music. Do hear them."

Although the Emerson Quartet has completed the Beethoven Cycle many times during the past four decades, their performance at The Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in June will be their debut with their newest member, cellist Paul Watkins.

The Emerson String Quartet has amassed an unparalleled list of achievements over four decades: more than thirty acclaimed recordings, nine Grammys® (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize and Musical America’s "Ensemble of the Year". Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson Quartet, which took its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, is Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. 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.

Highlights of the Emerson Quartet’s 2018-2019 North American appearances included concerts with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., New York’s Alice Tully Hall, 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 embarked on two European tours, performing in major venues in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Following their Great Lakes concerts, the Emerson will perform at Tanglewood, Ravinia, and the Aspen Music Festivals.

Other North American highlights included subsequent performances of Shostakovich and The Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy, the theatrical production co-created by the acclaimed theater director James Glossman and the Quartet’s violinist, Philip Setzer. The music/theater hybrid, co-commissioned by the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Princeton University and Tanglewood Music Festival, has been presented at the Ravinia Music Festival, Wolf Trap, and in Seoul, South Korea. Recently, the quartet reprised this work at Stony Brook University and will bring the production to the Orange County Performing Arts Center on May 14, 2019. In a bold intersection of chamber music and theater starring David Strathairn/Len Cariou and Jay O. Sanders/Sean Astin with the Emerson String Quartet, the audiences witness the trials of Dmitri Shostakovich’s 40-year obsessive quest to create an opera based on Anton Chekhov’s mystical tale: The Black Monk.

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.


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