Cassatt String Quartet
Muneko Otani, violin
Jennifer Leshnower, violin
Ah Ling Neu, viola
Elizabeth Anderson, cello
“...an undulant, lyrical and insightful performance...”
— The New York Times
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 in London for the Sapphire Jubilee Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II, the Beijing Modern Music Festival, 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-Élysées 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 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.
Recent 2017 reviews state “...the Cassatt String Quartet is certainly one of the great ensembles of our age” (Concerto Net) and “... a wonderful performance, with a beautifully integrated sound...” (Jeffrey James for SoundWordSight). Performance highlights feature world premieres at Merkin Hall celebrating Ursula Oppen’s birthday with Laura Kaminsky’s Piano Quintet, the American Natural History Museum’s Hayden Planetarium with Gerald Cohen’s Voyagers for clarinet quintet with Vasko Dukovski, residencies at Williams and Bowdoin Colleges to include the premiere of Vineet Shende’s Quartet 2 and a West Coast tour. The Cassatt records music of Victoria Bond and returns to the Music Mountain Festival and Summer Academy with Paul Katz, Bargemusic with Doris Stevenson premiering Zachary Wadsworth’s Piano Quintet and the Treetops Chamber Music Series. They will continue their unique collaboration with the Kyo-Shin-An Ensemble at New York City’s Tenri Cultural Center with performances for quartet, koto, shakuhachi and shamisen with James Nyoraku Schlefer and Yoko Reikano Kimura. This year marks their 13th annual Cassatt in the Basin! educational chamber music residency in Texas.
Summer highlights include their residency at the innovative Seal Bay Festival of Contemporary American Chamber Music 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 Prizewinner Steven Stucky and Tina Davidson (Albany Records), by Daniel S. Godfrey (Koch International Classics) and by Grawemeyer and Rome Prizewinner 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.