February 19, 2009
Vol. 28 No. 10

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    Pacificaís interpretations of Carterís quartets garner performance Grammy

    By Josh Schonwald
    News Office

    Pacifica Quartet

    For the second year in a row, a University ensemble has won a Grammy award.

    At the 51st Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Pacifica Quartet, an ensemble-in-residence in the University’s Music Department, received a Grammy for “Best Chamber Music Performance” of 2008.

    The string quartet, which has been in residence at Chicago since 1998, was honored for its Naxos recording of the Elliott Carter String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5.

    Last year, eighth blackbird, another ensemble-in-residence in the Music Department, earned the “Best Chamber Music Performance” of 2007 for its release, “strange imaginary animals.”

    Pacifica Quartet, renowned for its virtuosity and support of contemporary music, includes violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, along with cellist Brandon Vamos and Masumi Per Rostad on viola. The Grammy-winning recording was released to celebrate composer Elliott Carter’s centenary; it is the first of two discs of the complete String Quartets.

    Carter’s work has played an important role in Pacifica Quartet’s rise to international prominence. The ensemble garnered the classical world’s attention in 2002, when it performed all five of Carter’s quartets in a single evening. Describing the quartet’s first performance of these pieces, The New York Times wrote: “That [the quartet] played more than two hours of the most difficult music mever conceived with such technical assurance and keen musicianship was impressive enough. But they did more, bringing out the music’s volatile emotions, delicacy and even, in places, plucky humor.”

    The Pacifica Quartet will finish recording Carter’s cycle for Naxos this spring.

     “It has been an exhilarating past year for the Pacifica,” said Martha Feldman, Acting Chair and Professor in Music, in announcing the quartet’s Grammy to her colleagues. In addition to the Grammy, Feldman noted that Musical America, a highly regarded professional performing arts organization, last November named Pacifica its “Ensemble of the Year.” Pacifica became only the third quartet (Tokyo and Emerson string quartets) to ever win the award.

    Feldman expressed her pride in the musicians’ Grammy and emphasized the important role the Pacifica Quartet plays in the Music Department. “They continue to contribute stunning performances to the Contempo (Contemporary Chamber Players) concert series, including debuts of works by our excellent graduate student composers.” More than one work by University graduate students has made it into the repertory of the Quartet in venues outside Chicago; further ones, Bernhardsson said “are on our horizon for upcoming seasons.” In addition, Pacifica gives master classes for undergraduates and graduate students, coaches chamber music groups and leads sectional rehearsals for the University Symphony Orchestra.”

    The Grammy winners will perform their final concert of the season with saxophonist Erik Ronmark at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 19, in Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St.

    For ticket information, visit http://chicagopresents.uchicago.edu/.

    Related links: http://news.uchicago.edu/news.php?asset_id=1490