Brentano String Quartet
View website: http://brentanoquartet.com/
Since 1999, the Brentano String Quartet has had the honor of being the first-ever ensemble-in-residence at Princeton University. Long a magnet for students of composition, Princeton has become a vibrant center for music performance in latter years. The Quartet works within Princeton's musical community in a variety of ways.
The Quartet performs a recital each semester in Princeton's superb Richardson Hall, free to the public. Over the Quartet's ten years at Princeton, the performances at Richardson have featured works by a number of eminent Princeton composers, including Edward Cone, Paul Lansky and Steven Mackey. Luminaries such as pianist Mitsuko Uchida and pianist Peter Serkin have joined the Quartet onstage in these concerts. The Quartet has also recorded music by Haydn and Mackey in Richardson Hall.
Every spring semester, the Quartet leads a course for intensive chamber music study, open primarily to undergraduates. In this course, pre-formed student groups examine and rehearse masterpieces of the chamber music literature, with a view to better understanding the issue of ensemble playing, as well as the styles and traits of the great composers. The works are performed in formal concerts at the end of the semester.
The Quartet works regularly within the eminent post-graduate composition department at Princeton. In addition to appearing at meetings of the composition seminar, in order to consult and to sightread works in progress, the Quartet routinely performs the works of Princeton composers at department concerts. In this way the Quartet provides a live component crucial to any composition laboratory.
Beyond composition, the Quartet also assists in music department courses where live demonstration is relevant. Past courses have examined techniques of composition for string quartet (The Life and Times of the String Quartet), as well as chamber masterpieces from the First Viennese School, (The String Quartet from Haydn to Schubert). In the same spirit of demonstration, the Quartet recently brought eminent American composer Lee Hyla to Princeton for a lecture and performance of his setting of Allen Ginsberg's poem, Howl.
The Quartet has had an increasing presence outside the Music Department as well. In March 2009, members of the Quartet collaborated with Princeton's Dance Program in a choreographed performance of Schoenberg's String Trio. The following month, in cooperation with the Dean of Religious Life, the Quartet presented a performance of Haydn's Seven Last Words of Christ at the University Chapel, with homilies by area preachers.