Internationally recognized as one of the world’s foremost quartets, the American String Quartet celebrated its 36th season in 2011–2012. Critics and colleagues hold the Quartet in high esteem and many of today’s leading artists and composers seek out the Quartet for collaborations.
Following summer residencies at China’s Great Wall International Music Academy and at Colorado’s Aspen Music Festival, the Quartet’s 2011–2012 season included performances in Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. In late fall, the Quartet travels to Europe for appearances in Cologne, Bologna and Berlin. Guest artist Sharon Kam, clarinet, will join the Quartet in Cologne and Berlin for performances of Mozart’s Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A Major, K. 581. Other collaborators during the 2011–2012 season included flutist Linda Chesis, cellists Paul Katz and Alexander Scheirle, violists Matthias Buchholz, James Dunham, Guillermo Figueroa and Michael Tree, as well as the Ariel Quartet and the Maia Quartet.
To celebrate its 35th anniversary, the Quartet recorded an ambitious new CD, Schubert’s Echo, released in August 2010 by NSS Music. The program invites the listener to appreciate the influence of Schubert on two masterworks of early 20th-century Vienna.
U.S. performances in 2010–2011 included appearances at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), Candlelight Concert Society (Columbia, Maryland) and on the Wolf Trap Discovery Series (Vienna, Virginia) and Chamber Music at The Clark series (UCLA). Noteworthy performances included the world premiere of Glen Cortese’s Four Dances for String Quartet and String Orchestra with the Oregon Mozart Players in May and four concerts in New York City, the Quartet’s home base. Two concerts at the Manhattan School of Music featured an open rehearsal with a composer represented on the program: George Tsontakis in September and Joan Tower in April. Cellists Andrés Díaz and Norman Fischer, flutist Nancy Laupheimer, violists Matthias Buchholz and James Dunham, pianists Menahem Pressler and André-Michel Schub, and clarinetist Sharon Kam all collaborated with the Quartet in performances during the 35th anniversary season.
Critically acclaimed for its presentations of the complete quartets of Beethoven, Schubert, Schoenberg, Bartok and Mozart, the American String Quartet also champions contemporary music. The Quartet has commissioned and premiered works by distinguished composers Claus Adam, Richard Danielpour, Kenneth Fuchs, Tobias Picker and George Tsontakis. The Quartet has recorded on the Albany, CRI, MusicMasters, Musical Heritage Society, Nonesuch and RCA labels. The Quartet’s discography includes works by Adam, Corigliano, Danielpour, Dvorak, Fuchs, Prokofiev, Schoenberg and Tsontakis. Originally released by MusicMasters and again in 2008 by Nimbus Records, the Quartet’s recordings of the complete Mozart string quartets on a matched set of Stradivarius instruments are widely held to set the standard for this repertoire.
The Quartet’s innovative programming and creative approach to education has resulted in notable residencies throughout the country. The Quartet continues as quartet in residence at the Manhattan School of Music (1984–present) and the Aspen Music Festival (1974–present).
Formed in 1974 when its original members were students at The Juilliard School, the American String Quartet was launched by winning both the Coleman Competition and the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in the same year.