The Juilliard String Quartet, one of the most prominent and revered ensembles of our time, will make a rare public interview appearance in conversation with Nancy Shear on Music For All Seasons' acclaimed "Conversations" series, Tuesday, September 27, 6 to 7:30 p.m., at Steinway Hall, 109 West 57th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), the magnificent and historic flagship showroom of Steinway & Sons. The event is open to the public free of charge, on a first-come, first-served basis; tickets are not necessary.
The Quartet, appearing in its newest incarnation with first violinist Joseph Lin, will discuss a wide range of subjects, from music as language, the freedom and restrictions of interpreting classical music, the on- and off-stage dynamics of ensemble relationships, to the delights and trials of being a performing artist today.
Music For All Seasons' popular and acclaimed "Conversations" series is an innovative program that has an enthusiastic and devoted following. Guests who have appeared include Barbara Cook, Sir James Galway, Marvin Hamlisch, Marilyn Horne, Steven Isserlis, Lorin Maazel, Marni Nixon, André Previn, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Peter Schickele, Richard Stoltzman, Dawn Upshaw and André Watts. Each of the "Conversations" is held in an unusual venue in New York City. Locations have included the William Bennett Gallery, Bond #9, BMI, Bösendorfer New York, CFM Gallery, New York Society for Ethical Culture, and Steinway Hall.
MUSIC FOR ALL SEASONS
Music For All Seasons, now celebrating its 20th season, is active in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and California. The organization brings live musical performances to a wide range of institutions including children's hospitals, retirement facilities, shelters for victims of domestic violence, juvenile detention centers, nursing homes, medical centers, halfway houses and hospices. Music For All Seasons' exciting new initiative, Voices of Valor, is funded through the RoBert Wood Johnson Foundation and addresses issues of stress in returning veterans as they re-integrate into civilian life. Through its full range of programs, MFAS aids the physical, mental and spiritual healing processes, bringing together a wide variety of people and styles of music, providing opportunities for young professional artists to serve special audiences, and creating volunteer opportunities that serve local communities.
The Conversations Series, led by distinguished writer and broadcaster Nancy Shear, provides rare insights into the careers and lives of the guests and offers a behind-the-scenes look into the music world. The interviews benefit Music For All Seasons, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts, The Society for the Arts in Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson, and donations and grants from corporations, foundations and individuals. www.musicforallseasons.org
JUILLIARD STRING QUARTET
When the members of the Juilliard String Quartet played all of Arnold Schoenberg's quartets for the composer, he told the musicians that they had played the works differently from the way he had conceived them. Concerned, the members of the Quartet asked what he would want them to do differently. Schoenberg responded, "You play my quartets with great conviction in your own way, and I would like you to continue to do that. The works will live on beautifully in your interpretations."
Since its inception in 1946, the Juilliard String Quartet has had the technical excellence, musicological knowledge, interpretive expressiveness and collegial communication to be able to perform virtually the complete repertory for string quartet in ways that thrill audiences as well as composers. The Quartet has consistently realized the credo stated by founders Robert Mann and William Schuman to "play new works as if they were established masterpieces, and established masterpieces as if they were new." It is a matter, as Quartet violist Samuel Rhodes describes the JSQ, "of having iron-bound conviction, with flexibility."
The Quartet was created by the great American composer, William Schuman, then president of The Juilliard School, and the Quartet's original first violinist, Robert Mann. The ensemble's purpose would be to perform contemporary works as well as the great classical repertory, and to teach at Juilliard. These have been, and remain, the cornerstones of the JSQ mission. The Quartet's teaching activities, rooted in tradition and generational legacy, has included the coaching of string quartets and other types of ensembles, and the teaching of each player's individual instruments (all four are members of the Juilliard School faculty, and three are the heads of their respective departments).
The JSQ is widely known as the "quintessential American string quartet." The hallmarks of its distinctive JSQ sound - clarity of structure, beauty of sound, purity of line and an extraordinary unanimity of purpose - have been applied to virtually every era and genre in the literature, from Beethoven, Schubert and Bartók to Carter, Davidovsky, Babbitt and Wernick.
During the course of its history, the JSQ has performed some 500 works, including the premieres of more than 60 pieces by American composers; works by the country's finest jazz musicians are among them. The JSQ was the first ensemble to play all six Bartók quartets in the United States (giving the American premiere of the cycle at Tanglewood in 1948). The quartets of Schoenberg were rescued from obscurity by the ensemble's performances.
The Quartet has carried the banner of The Juilliard School and of the United States throughout the world, contributing to the reputation of the school as one of the world's foremost conservatories. The JSQ was Quartet in Residence at the Library of Congress for more than 40 years, and had a residency at Michigan State University for more than a decade. In addition to its annual five-day seminar at Juilliard, the members have taught master classes and seminars at Tanglewood, the Isaac Stern Seminars in Jerusalem, Carnegie Hall, Michigan State University, the Wuerzburg Hochschule, the Miyazaki Festival, and at many other institutions. Sharing its experience, the JSQ has been instrumental in the formation of numerous ensembles, among them the Alexander, American, Concord, Emerson, La Salle, New World, Mendelssohn, Tokyo, Brentano, Lark, St. Lawrence, Shanghai and Colorado String Quartets.
Within the past few seasons, the Juilliard String Quartet has performed throughout North America, including dates at AlIce Tully Hall (Lincoln Center), Chamber Music Society of Detroit, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Da Camera of Houston, Louisville Chamber Music Society, Shriver Hall Concert Series in Baltimore, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and Van Cliburn Concerts. They have also toured Europe, Japan and Australia, appearing at Konzerthaus Vienna, Konzerthaus Berlin, International Beethoven Festival in Bonn, Tonhalle in Düsseldorf, Palacio Real in Madrid, and at the Cité de la musique in Paris with an accompanying two-day residency at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique.
With more than 100 releases to its credit, the JSQ is one of the most widely recorded string quartets of our time. The ensemble's long and rich recording history includes an association with Sony Classical, in its various incarnations, since 1949; classic JSQ recordings have now been digitally released on iTunes. The JSQ's recordings of the complete Bartók quartets, the late Beethoven quartets, complete Schoenberg quartets, and Debussy and Ravel quartets have all received Grammy® Awards. Inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences (The Recording Academy®) in 1986 for its first recording of the complete Bartók quartets, the Juilliard String Quartet was awarded the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik Prize in 1993 for Lifetime Achievement in the recording industry. In 2011, the Juilliard String Quartet became the first classical music ensemble to be honored by The Recording Academy® with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
The members of the Juilliard String Quartet - Joseph Lin, first violin; Ronald Copes, second violin; Samuel Rhodes, viola; and Joel Krosnick, cello - are all American-born and trained.
Nancy Shear is well-known as writer, lecturer, producer, broadcaster and director of a performing arts production and public relations company. She has hosted broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony, Frick Collection and Naumburg Foundation; had her own interview programs on WNYC; and has been a commentator for the American Public Radio Network. Ms. Shear has lectured for the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Caramoor and Aspen festivals. Her articles have appeared in major publications such as Musical America, Ovation, Lincoln Center Stagebill and Symphony Magazine. She wrote entries for the 1992 Encyclopedia of New York (co-published by Yale University Press and the New-York Historical Society), and has written a book on the cultural phenomenon of The Three Tenors. She recently had a writing residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Ms. Shear has taught at New York University's and The New School's schools of continuing education, NYU's Vernon Center for Foreign Affairs and lectures at educational institutions such as The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music and Mannes College the New School for Music on the business and art of music, and music in an historical context. She has hosted special events including benefits at the Rainbow Room and, with André Previn, co-hosted a gala at the Caramoor Music Festival. Her background includes almost two decades as orchestra librarian, for The Philadelphia Orchestra, Curtis Institute, and privately for Leopold Stokowski, Lorin Maazel and other major figures of the current and recent past generations. Ms. Shear has also lectured on the life and work of Eleanor Roosevelt and on various travel subjects.