The Dover Quartet’s rise from up-and-coming young ensemble to occupying a spot at the top of their field has been “practically meteoric” (Strings). Catapulted to prominence after sweeping the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, the group has become a major presence on the international scene. With its burnished warmth, incisive rhythms, and natural phrasing, the Quartet’s distinctive sound has helped confirm its status as “the young American string quartet of the moment” (New Yorker). Named as Cleveland Quartet Award winner for the 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons, the group was awarded the Avery Fisher Career Grant in March 2017.
In the 2016-17 season the Dover Quartet will release its debut recording, featuring three works by Mozart: his two final string quartets and the Quintet in C minor. Released on the Cedille label, this program recalls the 1965 debut album of the Guarneri Quartet, whose founding violist, Michael Tree, joins the Dover Quartet on the recording. Also this season, over the course of six concerts in each of three cities, the group will undertake complete Beethoven quartet cycles for the first time. In Buffalo, NY, the Quartet performs in the University at Buffalo’s famous “Slee Cycle,” which has presented annual Beethoven quartet cycles since 1955 and has featured the likes of the Budapest, Guarneri, and Cleveland Quartets. The other two cycles will be performed at the University of Connecticut and the Montreal Chamber Music Festival; during the Montreal residency, the group also plays Mendelssohn’s Octet with the winners of the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition – the competition at which they themselves took the Grand Prize and all three Special Prizes in 2013. Rounding out the Quartet’s season are a five-city U.S. tour with bassist-composer Edgar Meyer, playing Mozart, Rossini, Dvořák, and Meyer’s own Quintet for Strings; a tour of the West Coast with mandolinist Avi Avital, playing music by Bach, Smetana, Sulkhan Tsintsadze, and David Bruce; and a tour of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, debuting in every city with programs including Beethoven, Schubert, Smetana, Britten, Barber, and Caroline Shaw.
During the 2015-16 season, the Dover Quartet performed more than 120 dates around the world, including debuts at Carnegie Hall, Yale University, the Lucerne Festival, and as part of the Lincoln Center “Great Performers” series. The group also returned to Washington, DC, for four programs at Dumbarton Oaks, two of which showcased the world premiere of a new commission by Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw. Additional season highlights saw the Quartet launch a newly created three-year faculty residency at Northwestern University, embark on its first tour of Israel as well as on three European tours, and perform for many of the most important presenters in the United States. A mainstay on the festival circuit, the Quartet also undertook week-long residencies at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Arkansas’s Artosphere, like those they have done in the past at Bravo! Vail and Chamber Music Northwest.
Two seasons ago the Quartet made its Kennedy Center debut, which was pronounced “a triumph” by the Washington Post; gave recitals at New York’s Schneider Concerts and London’s Wigmore Hall; and played return engagements throughout the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Great Britain. Festival appearances have taken the ensemble to the Bard Music Festival, Music at Menlo, La Jolla SummerFest, and Caramoor, where, as the 2013-14 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence, the Quartet premiered a new commission by David Ludwig. The group’s world-class collaborators have included pianists Anne-Marie McDermott, Marc-André Hamelin, and Jon Kimura Parker; violists Roberto Díaz and Cynthia Phelps; and the Pacifica Quartet.
In the spring of 2016, the Dover Quartet was recognized with the Hunt Family Award, one of the inaugural Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Awards, and in past years has taken top prizes at the Fischoff Competition and the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition. All four Quartet members are consummate solo artists: first violinist Joel Link took first prize at the Menuhin Competition; violinist Bryan Lee and violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt have appeared as soloists with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Tokyo Philharmonic, respectively; and cellist Camden Shaw released a solo album debut on the Unipheye Music label. As Strad magazine observes, “With their exceptional interpretative maturity, tonal refinement, and taut ensemble,” the Dover Quartet is “pulling away from their peers.”
Hailed as “the next Guarneri Quartet” (Chicago Tribune), the Dover Quartet draws from the lineage of that distinguished ensemble, as well that of the Cleveland and Vermeer Quartets; its members studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where they were mentored extensively by Shmuel Ashkenasi, James Dunham, Norman Fischer, Kenneth Goldsmith, Joseph Silverstein, Arnold Steinhardt, Michael Tree, and Peter Wiley. It was at Curtis that the Quartet first formed, and its name pays tribute to Dover Beach by fellow Curtis alumnus Samuel Barber. The group has since returned for residencies: to Rice in 2011-13, and to Curtis, where it became the conservatory’s first Quartet-in-Residence, in 2013-14.
The Dover Quartet is dedicated to sharing its music with under-served communities and is actively involved with Music for Food, an initiative enabling musicians to raise resources and awareness in the fight against hunger.
Photo Credit: Carlin Ma