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Emerson String Quartet


Acclaimed for its insightful performances, brilliant artistry and technical mastery, the Emerson String Quartet is one of the world's foremost chamber ensembles, and has amassed an impressive list of achievements: a brilliant series of recordings exclusively documented by Deutsche Grammophon since 1987, six Grammy Awards including two unprecedented honors for "Best Classical Album," three Gramophone Magazine Awards and performances of the complete cycles of Beethoven, Bartók and Shostakovich quartets in major concert halls throughout the world. The ensemble is lauded globally as a string quartet that approaches both classical and contemporary repertoire with equal mastery and enthusiasm.

In the 2004-2005 season, the Quartet presents a four-concert series in Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall entitled "A Vision of Mendelssohn." The series explores the complete Mendelssohn quartets, juxtaposed with works by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann and Schubert. The Mendelssohn cycle will also be presented in London at the South Bank Festival in March 2005. Deutsche Grammophon supports these series with a release of the complete Mendelssohn quartets in February 2005. The recording also includes a performance of Mendelssohn's famous Octet, in which the Emerson is featured playing all eight voices. This was accomplished with a computer designed by the Quartet's producer specifically for this release, using a sophisticated digital format comprised of 28 recording lines.

In addition to its active performance schedule in the major concert halls of North America, the Quartet tours Europe extensively, with stops in France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium and Austria. 2004-2005 is the Quartet's 26th sold-out season at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. In 2002, the Emerson joined Stony Brook University as Quartet-in-Residence, coaching chamber music, giving master classes and providing instrumental instruction, as well as several concerts during the year at Stony Brook's Staller Center for the Arts. The ensemble initiated its first International Chamber Music Festival at Stony Brook in June 2004, and continues its educational affiliation with Carnegie Hall in a workshop focusing on quintets by Brahms and Dvorák. In March of 2004 the Quartet was named the 18th recipient of the 2004 Avery Fisher Prize - another first for a chamber ensemble.

The Emerson has received six Grammy Awards: two for its Shostakovich cycle, two for its Bartók cycle, one for American Originals (works by Ives and Barber) and one for the complete quartets of Beethoven.

Formed in 1976, the Emerson String Quartet took its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Violinist Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer alternate in the first chair position and are joined by violist Lawrence Dutton and cellist David Finckel. Since January 2002, the Emerson has performed while standing - the cellist plays on a podium - and incorporates this practice in all appearances. The Quartet is based in New York City.

Eugene Drucker, Violin

Violinist Eugene Drucker, a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, has also been active as a solo artist. He has appeared with the orchestras of Montreal, Brussels, Antwerp, Liege, Austin, Hartford, Richmond, Toledo and the Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra and the Aspen Chamber Symphony.

A graduate of Columbia University and the Juilliard School, where he studied with Oscar Shumsky, Mr. Drucker was concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra, with which he appeared as soloist several times. He made his New York debut as a Concert Artists Guild winner in the fall of 1976, after having won prizes at the Montreal Competition and the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.

Mr. Drucker has recorded the complete unaccompanied works of Bach, recently reissued by Parnassus Records, and the complete sonatas and duos of Bartok, for Biddulph Recordings. In the fall of 2002, he began a teaching affiliation with his Emerson colleagues at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Philip Setzer, Violin

Violinist Philip Setzer was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and began studying violin at the age of five with his parents, both violinists in the Cleveland Orchestra. He continued his studies with Josef Gingold and Rafael Druian, and later at the Juilliard School with Oscar Shumsky. In 1967, Mr. Setzer won second prize at the Meriwether Post Competition in Washington, DC, and in 1976 received a Bronze Medal at the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels. He has appeared with the National Symphony, Aspen Chamber Symphony (David Robertson, conductor), Memphis Symphony (Michael Stern), New Mexico and Puerto Rico Symphonies (Guillermo Figueroa), Omaha and Anchorage Symphonies (David Loebel) and on several occasions with the Cleveland Orchestra (Louis Lane). He has also participated in the Marlboro Music Festival.

Mr. Setzer has been a regular faculty member of the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshops at Carnegie Hall and the Jerusalem Music Center. His article about those workshops appeared in The New York Times on the occasion of Isaac Stern's 80th birthday celebration. He also teaches as Visiting Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at SUNY Stony Brook and has given master classes at schools around the world, including The Curtis Institute, London's Royal Academy of Music, The San Francisco Conservatory, UCLA, The Cleveland Institute of Music and The Mannes School. In April of 1989, Mr. Setzer premiered Paul Epstein's Matinee Concerto. This piece, dedicated to and written for Mr. Setzer, has since been performed by him in Hartford, New York, Cleveland, Boston and Aspen. In his spare time he plays the viola and composes music.

Lawrence Dutton, Viola

Noted as a "poetic violist" by the New Yorker, violist Lawrence Dutton has earned distinction as a recitalist, soloist with orchestra, chamber musician, recording artist and teacher of viola and chamber music. As violist of the world renowned Emerson String Quartet, Mr. Dutton performs over 100 concerts each season and has won six Grammy Awards, most recently in 2001 for "Best Classical Album" and "Best Chamber Music Performance"of the complete string quartets of Shostakovich on the Deutsche Grammophon label. The Emerson Quartet continues to be the only chamber music ensemble to ever win "Best Classical Album", (also for the complete Bartok string quartets in 1990). The Emerson String Quartet recently won Gramophone Magazine's award for Best Chamber Music Performance for the Shostakovich set. They also won a "Best Chamber Music Performance" Grammy in 1994 for Ives, Barber and in 1998 for their complete Beethoven Quartets and continue to be exclusive recording artists for Deutsche Grammophon.

Mr. Dutton has collaborated with many of the world's great performing artists. They included Isaac Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich, Oscar Shumsky, Walter Trampler, Menahem Pressler, Lynn Harrell, Yefim Bronfman, Joseph Kalichstein, Misha Dichter, Jan DeGaetani and Edgar Meyer among others. In addition, he has performed as guest artist with numerous chamber music ensembles such as the Juilliard and Guarneri quartets, and with the Beaux Arts and the Kalichstein, Laredo, Robinson trios. With the Beaux Arts trio he recorded the Shostakovich Piano Quintet, Op. 57, and the Fauré G minor Piano Quartet, Op. 45, on the Philips label. His Aspen Music Festival recording with Jan DeGaetani for Bridge records was nominated for a 1992 Grammy Award. For BRAVO television he recorded works by Stravinsky and Hindemith.

As a soloist, Mr. Dutton has appeared with many American and European orchestras including those of Germany, Belgium, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado, and Virginia, among others. He has also appeared as guest artist at the music festivals of Aspen, Santa Fe, Ravinia and Chamber Music Northwest, and has collaborated with the late Isaac Stern in the International Chamber Music Encounters at both Carnegie Hall and in Jerusalem.

Lawrence Dutton began violin and viola studies with Margaret Pardee and continued with Francis Tursi at the Eastman School, when he began playing viola exclusively. He earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees at the Juilliard School, where he studied with Lillian Fuchs. While at Juilliard, Mr. Dutton was awarded the Walter M. Naumberg Scholarship.

In May 1995, he and other members of the Emerson String Quartet were awarded honorary doctorates from Middlebury College in Vermont. Mr. Dutton is currently a Professor of Chamber Music at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the Manhattan School of Music and resides in Bronxville, New York with his wife, violinist Elizabeth Lim-Dutton and their sons Luke Thomas and Jesse Lee. His viola is a Pietro Giovanni Mantegazza, dated Milan 1796. Mr. Dutton plays exclusively on Helicore viola strings made by D'Addario.

David Finckel, Cello

Cellist David Finckel is one of the world's most unique and visible performers. He has been called a "world class soloist" by The Denver Post, and was hailed by Germany's Nordwest Zeitung as "one of the top ten, if not top five, cellists in the world today."

Highlights of recent seasons have included recitals throughout North America with pianist Wu Han; a third appearance at London's Wigmore Hall; a performance of André Previn's Cello Sonata at a special 92nd Street Y concert honoring the composer; the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas's cello concerto, Ritual Incantations, at the Aspen Music Festival; and his debut with the Festival Orchestra in Bloch's Schelomo, under Sergiu Comissiona. Additional solo and chamber appearances include the Aspen Music Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, SummerFest La Jolla, and Music@Menlo; and over one hundred concerts worldwide as cellist of the Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet. David Finckel's recent activities as orchestral soloist include performances of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Louisiana Philharmonic; the Haydn C Major Concerto with the Vancouver Symphony; the Dvorak Concerto and Augusta Read Thomas' Ritual Incantations with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra; and John Harbison's Cello Concerto with the Albany Symphony, recently released on Albany Records.

David Finckel's expansive musical activities also include the launch of ArtistLed, classical music's first musician-directed and Internet-based recording company. The Denver Post described ArtistLed as "a classical music breakthrough." The label's "Russian Classics" recording, featuring works by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, received BBC Music Magazine's coveted "Editor's Choice." The label's most recent release features two late masterpieces by Franz Schubert, and has been praised as "a great success on all counts" (AudioPhile Audition).

In August 2003, with pianist Wu Han, David Finckel launched Music@Menlo (, a new chamber music festival in Silicon Valley that has attracted widespread attention and international acclaim for its innovative programming, roster of world-class artists, workshop program for top young chamber ensembles, Encounters series featuring the nation's top musicologists, and a strong visual arts component. Prior to launching Music@Menlo, Wu Han and David Finckel served for three seasons as Artistic Directors of SummerFest La Jolla. In June 2004, having firmly established a reputation as great musical innovators both on and off stage, Wu Han and Finckel were named Artistic Directors of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

David Finckel teaches during the summer at the Aspen Music Festival and School, and has served as a regular faculty member of the Issac Stern Chamber Music Workshops in New York, Jerusalem, Paris and Japan. He lives in New York with his wife, the pianist Wu Han, and their ten-year-old daughter Lilian.