Emerson String Quartet to Retire in Summer 2023

August 26, 2021, 8:54 AM · The Emerson String Quartet, which has been performing for 45 years, announced on Thursday that the group will retire at the end of summer, 2023.

Emerson String Quartet
The Emerson String Quartet.

Formed at The Juilliard School in 1976, the Emerson's original members included violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer; violist Guillermo Figueroa, Jr. and cellist Eric Wilson. Violist Lawrence Dutton joined the group in 1977; cellist David Finckel became a member in 1979 and was succeeded by cellist Paul Watkins in 2013.

The current members will continue to perform and teach individually. As a group, they will continue to coach and mentor young ensembles through the Emerson String Quartet Institute at Stony Brook University, along with cellist David Finckel, who was a member of the quartet for 34 years.

"Looking back on more than four decades of life in the Emerson String Quartet, it is with a mixture of pride and nostalgia that we announce our retirement at the end of the summer of 2023," Drucker said. "In addition to the great music we’ve been privileged to share with audiences and with each other, it is the opportunity to connect with close friends that has meant the most to us over the years. Each city on our itineraries has had its own unique associations for us, giving atmosphere, texture and the all-important personal dimension to our recollections of the passing seasons. Presenters, managers, record label executives, colleagues and audience members have all played important roles in our experience. Now, as we contemplate our future careers, which will afford us the opportunity to continue performing as individuals and to pass the fruits of our experience on to younger generations of chamber players, we also wish to express our gratitude to all the instrumentalists, singers, composers, actors and directors with whom we have been honored to collaborate.”

The group will still perform for two more seasons. This October, Quartet members will return to the Chamber Music Society of Louisville, where they will perform the second half of a Beethoven cycle they began in early 2020. In January 2022, they will perform in the New York premiere of André Previn’s last work, Penelope, at Carnegie Hall. This project, which premiered at Tanglewood in 2019, features a collaboration with soprano Renée Fleming, actress Uma Thurman, and pianist Simone Dinnerstein. Another performance of Penelope will take place in February 2022 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Additional stops on their 2021-2022 itinerary will include Pittsfield, MA; Charleston, SC; Wooster, OH; Houston, TX; Sandy Springs, GA; Chicago, IL; Sanibel, FL; Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA; and Stony Brook University in New York.

In March 2022 they will embark on a six-city tour of Europe. Additional details of the Emerson Quartet’s final season will be announced at a later date.

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August 27, 2021 at 07:12 AM · End of an era but also a logical conclusion. I really learned to be awed by string quartet playing through the Emerson recordings (which are, however, heavily sound-engineered, at least my impression).

September 1, 2021 at 09:09 AM · Via the Emersons I became aware that some quartets alternate the first and second violins' roles.

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