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Biography

Recognized for its virtuosity, exuberant performance style, and often-daring repertory choices, the Pacifica Quartet has carved out a compelling and critically lauded musical path, resulting in Musical America naming the group its 2009 “Ensemble of the Year.” The Pacifica also received the music industry’s most coveted recognition with its 2009 “Best Chamber Music Performance” Grammy Award for its recording of Elliott Carter’s String Quartets Nos. 1 & 5 (Naxos). Since the group first came together in 1994, the Pacifica Quartet has swept top awards in the U.S. and abroad, including the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2006, making the Pacifica only the second chamber music ensemble ever to be selected.


The Pacifica Quartet tours extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia, performing in the world’s major concert halls in cities such as Paris, London, Amsterdam, Vienna, Tokyo, and Perth. Each season, the ensemble can be heard on many of the nation’s most prominent radio broadcasts, including Chicago’s WFMT, Boston’s WGBH, and American Public Media’s Performance Today and St. Paul Sunday.

Prolific in the recording studio, the Pacifica Quartet’s CD Declarations: Music Between the Wars showcased music composed during the turbulent decades between World Wars I and II. In January 2008, the Quartet released the first in a two-disc set of the complete string quartets of Elliott Carter, released on the Naxos label in celebration of the composer’s 100th birthday. The second disc, presenting the three remaining string quartets, was released in February 2009. The Pacifica’s recent recordings of the complete string quartets of Felix Mendelssohn have also attracted effusive praise from critics in the U.S. and abroad. On the heels of the release, the ensemble was featured on the cover of Gramophone magazine.

In the 2009-2010 season, the Pacifica Quartet will assume the quartet-in-residence position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, having taken over that role from the Guarneri Quartet, which is stepping down after 43 years. Additionally, the Quartet will return to Europe for two separate tours, perform with acclaimed pianist Menahem Pressler, appear at the Casals Festival, and participate in Beethoven cycles around the United States.

Unique in the chamber music world, during the 2008-2009 season the Pacifica Quartet presented cycles of Elliott Carter’s groundbreaking quartets in San Francisco, at London’s Wigmore Hall, and at Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Foundation. These arduous concerts – true labors of love – complemented the release of the second Naxos CD. The Quartet’s Carter cycles have elicited fabulous reviews: The New York Times wrote glowingly of the “astounding performances” and the Chicago Tribune praised the Quartet’s “astonishing talent, energy, and dedication.”

For the 2010-2011 season the Quartet is preparing the monumental Shostakovich cycle, to be performed in Chicago and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2011-2012, the Pacifica will take the Shostakovich cycle to Wigmore Hall, and will also present the complete Beethoven cycle in New York at the Met.

The Pacifica was appointed a member of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two program for gifted young musicians in 2002. The two-year position involved the Quartet in a full range of activities organized by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, from performances in Alice Tully Hall to community partnerships and leading roles in the Society’s educational activities. In January 2008, the Quartet performed the Carter cycle at Lincoln Center, and in November 2008 participated in the Chamber Music Society’s festival honoring Klaus Lauer.

The Quartet is an ardent advocate of contemporary music, commissioning and performing as many as eight new works a year. As resident string quartet for Contempo, one of the country’s leading contemporary music organizations, the Quartet presents a series of concerts each year devoted exclusively to new music.

In 2004, the Pacifica Quartet was appointed Faculty Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Chicago and Resident Performing Artists at the University of Chicago and at the Longy School of Music in Boston. Reflecting its dedication to musicians and music lovers of the next generation, the Pacifica Quartet was instrumental in creating the Music Integration Project, an innovative program that provides musical performances and teacher training to inner-city elementary schools. In addition, the Quartet regularly teaches and performs at summer festivals, including Maverick Concerts, Caramoor International Music Festival, Fontana Chamber Arts, Music in the Vineyards, Interlochen Arts Camp, and the Madeline Island Music Festival. In the summer of 2009, the Pacifica performed the entire Mendelssohn cycle for Music@Menlo.

As a young ensemble, the Quartet was awarded top prizes in three of chamber music’s most important international competitions: the 1996 Coleman Chamber Music Competition, the 1997 Concert Artists Guild Competition, and the 1998 Naumburg Chamber Music Competition. In 2002, the Quartet was further honored with Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, which led to a series of concerts in eight of America’s most prestigious venues.

The members of the Pacifica Quartet share a unique history of personal and musical friendship. First violinist Simin Ganatra, born and raised in southern California, initially played with cellist Brandon Vamos and violinist Sibbi Bernhardsson while they were all teenagers. Sibbi later introduced violist Masumi Per Rostad to the group. Originating on the west coast, where it played many of its earliest concerts together, the Quartet takes its name from the awe-inspiring Pacific Ocean. Throughout their journey as a string quartet, its members continually strive to be Distinct as the billows/yet one as the sea. (James Montgomery)

For further information about the Pacifica Quartet, please visit
www.pacificaquartet.com

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