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, Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year” and collaborations with many of the greatest artists of our time.
The arrival of Paul Watkins in 2013 has had a profound effect on the Emerson Quartet. Mr. Watkins, a distinguished soloist, award-winning conductor, and devoted chamber musician, joined the ensemble in its 37th season, and his dedication and enthusiasm have infused the Quartet with a warm, rich tone and a palpable joy in the collaborative process. The reconfigured group has been praised by critics and fans alike around the world. “The Emerson brought the requisite virtuosity to every phrase. But this music is equally demanding emotionally and intellectually, and the group’s powers of concentration and sustained intensity were at least as impressive.” The New York Times
Having celebrated its 40th Anniversary last season– a major milestone for a ground-breaking ensemble that has earned its place in the pantheon of the classical chamber music world, the Emerson looks towards the future by collaborating with today’s most esteemed composers and premiering new works, thus proving their commitment to keeping the art form of the string quartet alive and more relevant than ever. In 2016, Universal Music Group reissued their entire Deutsche Grammophon discography in a 52-CD boxed set, and in April 2017, the Quartet released its latest album, Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell, the first release on Universal Music Classics’ new US classical record label, Decca Gold. The 2017-2018 season reflects all aspects of the Emerson’s venerable artistry with high-profile projects, collaborations and tours. In Fall 2017, the Emerson continues its series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC for its 39th season, and performances at the Lincoln Center’s White Lights Festival and at Alice Tully Hall. Other North American highlights of the season include a subsequent performance at the Princeton University of Shostakovich and The Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy, the new theatrical production co-created by the acclaimed theater director James Glossman and the Quartet’s violinist, Philip Setzer; collaborations with the Calidore Quartet at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA and the Dover Quartet at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; and concert appearances at Cleveland, Philadelphia and Corpus Christi Chamber Music Societies, Vancouver Recital Society, Chamber Music Houston, Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts, South Mountain Concerts, Duke Performances and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as in Sleepy Hollow, NY, Louisville, KY, Shreveport, LA and Richmond, VA. In April 2018, the renowned pianist Evgeny Kissin joins the Emerson for three performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Hall and Boston’s Jordan Hall, and appears with the Quartet in France, Germany and Austria. Throughout the season, The Emerson embarks on multiple tours in South America, Asia and Europe comprising dates in Austria, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
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 Emerson Quartet, which took its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, is Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. During the spring of 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. 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.