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Emerson String Quartet Opens Concert Classics Series October 2, 2014

September 16, 2014


The internationally renowned Emerson String Quartet will open the Princeton University Concerts' Concert Classics Series at Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall on October 2, 2014 at 8pm.  Although the Emerson have performed in Princeton many times, this concert will be the first time Princeton audiences can hear the Emerson with newest member, cellist Paul Watkins, who replaced David Finckel in May 2013. Mr. Watkins, music director of the English Chamber Orchestra and longtime member of The Nash Ensemble of London, has already infused the Emerson Quartet with a rich tone and vibrant sense of humor.  A pre-concert talk given by Professor Scott Burnham will take place at 7pm and is free to ticketholders.  The complete program follows:

   HAYDN  Quartet in G Major, Op. 33, No. 5
   BEETHOVEN  Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 95 "Serioso"
   RAVEL  Quartet in F Major


The Emerson String Quartet stands apart in the history of string quartets with an unparalleled list of achievements over three decades: more than thirty acclaimed recordings, nine Grammys® (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, Musical America's "Ensemble of the Year," and collaborations with many of the greatest artists of our time.

With the arrival of cellist Paul Watkins in May of 2013, the first personnel change for the quartet in 34 years, the Emerson Quartet embarks on a remarkable new journey -- one that has already garnered accolades.  "One of the characteristics of the new Emerson Quartet," wrote The New York Times, "is that its players (the violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer and the violist Lawrence Dutton in addition, now, to Mr. Watkins) all have the ability and the instruments to produce a sweet and glossy sound -- but do so sparingly. Instead, they establish a chromatic scale of timbres that range from dry and tart over clean and zesty all the way to lustrous and singing. Listening to them pass tiny rhythmic motifs around the group, I was struck by how evenly calibrated these timbres were." 

In Duke University's The Thread, Watkins said his decision to join the multi-Grammy-winning Quartet was due to "the extraordinary verve and vigor to their playing, which is incredibly infectious -- you just get swept up in it. These guys are absolute masters of their instruments, with phenomenally high standards." Just as important, however is the "real unanimity of thought" that characterizes this superlative group. Violist Lawrence Dutton said:  "From the first rehearsal I was amazed by Paul's playing -- his overall sound was gorgeous, every note beautiful, every phrase incredibly well-balanced and expressive."  "The sound is darker with Paul," says violinist Philip Setzer, "but he is also a very intense musician and exciting performer. If we are mellower with Paul it's purely sonic, because none of us is looking to sit back and relax."  And violinist Eugene Drucker opined:  "The cello is the foundation of a string quartet's sound. David's tone is more baritone-tenor, Paul's more bass-baritone, i.e., darker.  If pressed, I would guess that our sound is now a bit less streamlined but more expansive and possibly warmer."  Princeton University Concerts is pleased to offer audiences the first opportunity in Princeton to hear this brand new veteran dream team.

Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson was one of the first quartets formed with two violinists alternating in the first chair position.  In 2002, the Quartet began to stand for most of its concerts, with the cellist seated on a riser.  The Emerson Quartet took its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson and is Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University.  In January of 2015, the Quartet will receive the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America's highest honor, in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field. 

For further information please contact Catherine Ugolini at 609-258-6024 or
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WHAT:  Emerson String Quartet

WHEN: Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 8pm
Pre-concert talk by Professor Scott Burnham at 7pm, free to ticketholders

WHERE:  Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall

TICKETS: $45, $35, $20 General; $10, $5 Students.  Tickets are available online at, by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person two hours prior to concert at the Richardson Auditorium Box Office. 

PHOTOS: Please contact Catherine Ugolini at 609-258-6024 or or download at

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Dasha (Darya) Koltunyuk
Phone:  609-258-6024