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Emerson String Quartet plays the Leighton

Brandon Hollihan | Thursday, April 14, 2005

Holding a career that spans over a quarter of a century, the Emerson String Quartet has gained mass appeal for both its groundbreaking work in chamber music and its recording partnership with Deutsche Grammophon. Under Grammophon’s license, the group has won six Grammy Awards, including honors for “Best Classical Album” and three Grammophon Magazine Awards.The Emerson String Quartet comes to the Leighton Concert Hall at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Saturday at 8 p.m.The Emerson Quartet’s breakthrough on a national scale happened in 1989 through the performance of six Bela Bartók quartets in its Carnegie Hall debut. A recording of these quartets won both the Grammy Award for “Best Classical Album” and the Grammophon Magazine Album for “Record of the Year.” Thus, the Emerson Quartet set a new precedent in each of these award groups by becoming the first chamber music group to receive such honors.Other high-profile recordings from the Emerson Quartet include a seven-disc boxed set of the complete Beet quartets in 1997; a live recording in 2000 of Shostakovich quartets at the Aspen Music Festival, which also won a Grammy; and the Emerson Encores, a compilation of quartets including composers such as Charles Ives, Samuel Barber, Robert Schumann and Anton Dvorák. In 2004, they also engaged in sacred music via Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ and Bach’s Art of the Fugue, both of which have been recorded through Grammophon.Much like previous PAC performers this year – such as the King’s Singers and, of course, the New York Philharmonic – the Emerson Quartet has been committed to the commissioning and performance of numerous new works from such composers as Andre Prévin, Ellen Taaffe Zwillich, Ned Rorem and Edgar Meyer.The quartet is comprised of violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton and cellist David Finckel. The musicians base themselves in New York City. They take their name from the American Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, and bearing in mind their namesake, they perform frequently at benefit concerts for causes including nuclear disarmament, AIDS and children’s diseases. Among their accolades for their humanitarian efforts is a Smithson award from the Smithsonian Institute.Recent activity for the group includes a four-concert series at Carnegie Hall entitled “A Vision of Mendelssohn,” which explored not only works by Mendelssohn but also entwined Bach, Beethoven and Schubert.The tour stop at Notre Dame adds to a worldwide presence Emerson has exerted throughout its tenure. Besides its frequent presence at Carnegie Hall (and also the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.) the group has traveled to France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Belgium.For Saturday’s performance, the Emerson Quartet will perform Mozart’s Quartet in G, K. 387, Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 2 and Beethoven’s Op. 131.In addition to Saturday evening’s concert, the Emerson Quartet is also giving a master class for campus musicians at 2 p.m. earlier in the day.

The Emerson String Quartet will perform Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Leighton Concert Hall. Tickets for the concert are $35 for adults, $28 for faculty/staff, $26 for seniors and $15 for all students.