The Emerson String Quartet has accumulated an unparalleled list of achievements over three 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 greeted with impressive accolades. “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
The Quartet’s summer season included engagements at BBC Proms and the Ravinia, Tanglewood, Aspen, Chamber Music Northwest, Evian, Berlin, Great Lakes, Norfolk, Cape Cod and Mostly Mozart festivals. In a season of over 85 quartet performances, mingled with the Quartet members’ individual artistic commitments, the Emerson plays extensively throughout North America. Season highlights include collaborations with soprano Barbara Hannigan for Berg’s Lyric Suite at the Berlin Festival, with violist Roberto Diaz for Mendelssohn’s Viola Quintet at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, and with the Calidore String Quartet for the Mendelssohn Octet at Princeton University. The Emerson also performs two concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall in November and will appear at the second Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in Los Angeles’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in May 2016.
Multiple tours of Europe comprise dates in Denmark, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Austria, Hungary and the United Kingdom; they also visit Moscow, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul. The Emerson continues its series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC for its 36th season, and is presented by Lincoln Center’s “Great Performers” in a three-part series of late Haydn and early Beethoven string quartets in April and May.
The Emerson’s 2015-16 season begins with the release of a disc with world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming on the Decca/Universal label, featuring Viennese music written in the 1920s and ‘30s: Berg’s Lyric Suite (including an alternate version of the last movement for soprano and quartet), Egon Wellesz’s Sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Eric Zeisl’s Komm, süsser Tod (Come, sweet Death).
Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson was one of the first quartets formed with two violinists alternating in the first chair position. In 2002, the Quartet began to stand for most of its concerts, with the cellist seated on a riser. 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.