The Cassatt String Quartet with pianist Ursula Oppens
The Cassatt String Quartet with pianist Ursula Oppens
Acclaimed as one of America's outstanding ensembles, the Manhattan based Cassatt String Quartet has performed throughout North America, Europe, and the Far East, with appearances at New York's Alice Tully Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Tanglewood Music Theater, the Kennedy Center and Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Theatre des Champs in Paris and Maeda Hall in Tokyo. The Quartet has been presented on major radio stations such as National Public Radio's Performance Today, Boston's WGBH, New York's WQXR and WNYC, and on Canada's CBC Radio and Radio France.
Formed in 1985 with the encouragement of the Juilliard Quartet, the Cassatt initiated and served as the inaugural participants in Juilliard's Young Artists Quartet Program. Their numerous awards include a Tanglewood Chamber Music Fellowship, the Wardwell Chamber Music Fellowship at Yale (where they served as teaching assistants to the Tokyo Quartet), First Prizes at the Fischoff and Coleman Chamber Music Competitions, two top prizes at the Banff International String Quartet Competition, two CMA/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, a recording grant from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, and commissioning grants from Meet the Composer and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2004, they were selected for the centennial celebration of the Coleman Chamber Music Association in Pasadena, California.
The Cassatt celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2006 with a series of world-premieres, a performance at the Library of Congress on the Library's Stradivarius Collection and gave concerts for the American Academy in Rome, Cornell and Syracuse Universities and were guest clinicians at the the Texas Music Educators Association. They also gave mini-residencies at the Centro National de las Artes in Mexico City, Vassar College and the University of Texas at Austin.
"... an undulant, lyrical and insightful performance..." by the Cassatt String Quartet was recently cited in The New York Times. The 2014-15 season highlights include their debut at the Beijing Modern Music Festival, the New York Botanical Gardens with composer/moderator, Laura Kaminsky and return appearances at Chamber Music America's National Conference, Music Mountain Festival and Bargemusic with pianist, Ursula Oppens, the Westchester Chamber Society with violist Kazuhide Isomura of the former Tokyo Quartet and Treetops Chamber Series with clarinetist, Oskar Espina Ruiz. They will continue their unique collaboration with the Kyo-Shin-An Ensemble at New York City's Tenri Cultural Center to give performances for quartet, koto, shakuhachi and shamisen with James Nyoraku Schlefer and Yoko Reikano Kimura. This year marks their 9th annual Cassatt in the Basin! educational chamber music residency in Texas with guest, Maestro Benjamin Zander.
Summer highlights include their residency at the innovative Seal Bay Festival and the Atlantic Music Festival in Maine.
Equally adept at classical masterpieces and contemporary music, the Cassatt has collaborated with a remarkable array of artists/composers including pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, soprano Susan Narucki, flutist Ransom Wilson, jazz pianist Fred Hersch, didgeriedoo player Simon 7, the Trisha Brown Dance Company, distinguished members of the Cleveland and Vermeer Quartets, and composers Louis Andriessen and John Harbison.
With a deep commitment to nurturing young musicians, the Cassatt, in residencies at Princeton, Yale, Syracuse University, the University at Buffalo and the University of Pennsylvania, has devoted itself to coaching, conducting sectionals and reading student composers' works, while offering lively musical presentations in music theory, history and composition. Selected by Chamber Music America, they served as guest artists for their New Music Institute; a series to help presenters market new music to their audiences.
Named three times by The New Yorker magazine's Best Of...CD Selection, the Cassatt's discography includes eclectic new quartets by Pulitizer Prize-winner Steven Stucky and Tina Davidson (Albany Records), by Daniel S. Godfrey (Koch International Classics) and by Grawemeyer and Rome Prize-winner Sebastian Currier (New World) as critiqued in The New York Times (Quartetset) was written for the Cassatt... which plays it strongly here."
The Cassatt has recorded for the Koch, Naxos, New World, Point, CRI, Tzadik and Albany labels and is named for the celebrated American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt.
Ursula Oppens is one of the very first artists to program traditional and contemporary works in equal measure. An enduring commitment to integrating new music into regular concert life has led Ms. Oppens to commission and premiere countless compositions. In addition to her long and productive association with Elliott Carter, she has premiered works by such leading composers as Luciano Berio, William Bolcom, John Corigliano, John Harbison, Julius Hemphill, Tania Leon, Harold Meltzer, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Conlon Nancarrow, Tobias Picker, Frederic Rzewski, Joan Tower, Amy Williams, Christian Wolff, Amnon Wolman, and Charles Wuorinen.
Ms. Oppens has performed with virtually all of the world's major orchestras. She has been heard with the American Composers Orchestra and the major orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, and San Francisco. Abroad, she has appeared with such orchestras as the Berlin Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Deutsche Symphonie, and the BBC Scottish and London Philharmonic Orchestras. She has also performed as the piano soloist for the Mark Morris Company's Mozart Dances. An avid chamber musician, Ms. Oppens has performed with the Arditti, Juilliard, Pacifica, and Rosetti quartets, among others. She is a prolific recording artist, many of whose discs, including her recording of the landmark Frederic Rzewski work, The People United Will Never Be Defeated, are phonographic classics.
Ms. Oppens launched Elliott Carter's year-long 100th birthday celebration by performing a solo recital of his works in January 2007, at Symphony Space in New York City. In fall 2008, Ms. Oppens took up her post as Distinguished Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. From 1994 through the the 2007-08 academic year she served as John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.