Parker Quartet Master Class
Internationally recognized for their “fearless, yet probingly beautiful” (The Strad) performances, the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet has distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation, dedicated purely to the sound and depth of their music. Inspired performances and exceptional musicianship are hallmarks of the Quartet, having appeared at the world’s most illustrious venues since its founding in 2002.
Recent seasons included performances around the United States and Europe, including Wigmore Hall, Konzerthaus Berlin, Music Toronto, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Strathmore, San Antonio Chamber Music Society, University of Chicago, the Schubert Club, and Kansas City’s Friends of Chamber Music.
Their 20th anniversary was marked in the 2022-23 season with The Beethoven Project, a multi-faceted initiative which includes performances of the complete cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets; the commissioning of six composers to write encores inspired by Beethoven’s quartets; the creation of a new video library spotlighting each Beethoven quartet; and bringing Beethoven’s music to non-traditional venues around the Quartet’s home base of Boston, including homeless shelters and youth programs.
The Quartet is committed to working with composers of today — recent commissions include works by Augusta Read Thomas, Felipe Lara, Jaehyuck Choi, and Zosha di Castri. Celebrating the process of creation, the Quartet recorded three new commissions by Kate Soper, Oscar Bettison, and Vijay Iyer as part of Miller Theatre’s Mission: Commission podcast.
Additionally, the Quartet regularly collaborates with a diverse range of artists, which have included pianists Menahem Pressler, Orion Weiss, Shai Wosner, Billy Childs, and Vijay Iyer; members of the Silk Road Ensemble; clarinetist and composer Jörg Widmann; clarinetists Anthony McGill and Charles Neidich; flutist Claire Chase; and violist Kim Kashkashian, featured on their recent Dvořák recording. The Quartet also continues to be a strong supporter of Kashkashian’s project Music for Food, participating in concerts throughout the United States for the benefit of various food banks and shelters.
Recording projects continue to be an important facet of the Quartet’s artistic output. Described by Gramophone Magazine as a ”string quartet defined by virtuosity so agile that it’s indistinguishable from the process of emotional expression,” their newest release for ECM Records features Dvořák’s Viola Quintet as well as György Kurtág’s Six Moments Musicaux and Officium breve in memoriam. The Strad also declared the album as “nothing short of astonishing.” Under the auspices of the Monte Carlo Festival Printemps des Arts, they recorded a disc of three Beethoven quartets, of which Diapason “admired the group’s fearlessness, exceptional control, and attention to detail.” The Quartet can also be heard playing Mendelssohn on Nimbus Records, Bartók on Zig-Zag Territoires, and the complete Ligeti Quartets on Naxos, for which they won a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance.
The members of the Parker Quartet serve as Professors of the Practice and Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music. The Quartet also holds a visiting residency at the University of South Carolina and spends its summers on faculty at the Banff Centre’s Evolution: Quartet program. For the 23-24 season they will be involved in a visiting residency at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, in Natick, MA, working with gifted high school musicians.
Founded and currently based in Boston, the Parker Quartet’s numerous honors include winning the Concert Artists Guild Competition, the Grand Prix and Mozart Prize at France’s Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition, and Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award.