LSM Newswire

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Juilliard String Quartet Welcomes Nick Eanet As It's New First Violinist




The Juilliard String Quartet, whose name has been synonymous with the highest quality in chamber music, will perform its first concert with Nick Eanet as its first violinist at the Ravinia Festival (in Highland Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago) on Wednesday, July 8, 2009, at 8 p.m. This is only the ninth incarnation of the Quartet since its inception in 1946, with changes in membership occurring singly and slowly, with an average of eleven years' gap between changes. Mr. Eanet's arrival marks the newest chapter in the ever-evolving history of the Juilliard String Quartet.

Mr. Eanet is leaving his position as concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra to join the Juilliard Quartet. He replaces Joel Smirnoff, who is assuming the position of President of the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music. The existing members of the Quartet, after Mr. Smirnoff's departure, are Ronald Copes, violin; Samuel Rhodes, viola; and Joel Krosnick, cello.

Mr. Eanet is welcomed enthusiastically by the continuing members of the Juilliard String Quartet, whose goal was to find a player who would take the Quartet into the next generation and continue the Juilliard String Quartet's legacy with youthfulness and vitality. The qualifications for the new member included an interest in performing contemporary music and a dedication to teaching. Mr. Eanet was a natural choice, as he brings to the Quartet the ideal qualities of having a new viewpoint as well as a shared emotional connection and musical philosophy with his new colleagues.

For Nick Eanet, the connection to the Juilliard String Quartet is almost familial. "It's very emotional for me to join this particular quartet," Eanet said. "Besides its being 'the' quartet when I was growing up, I have had a relationship with the founding violinist, Robert (Bobby) Mann, Sam, and both Joels since I was in school at Juilliard. As a freshman, I remember leaving my first quartet coaching with Bobby and thinking 'I must study with him.' That was to happen a few years later, and he was my violin teacher during my last year in school."

Nick Eanet's passionate connection to quartet playing, and his memories of the Juilliard, date back to his early childhood. "When I was only five years old, my young quartet was invited by Shinichi Suzuki to participate in his festival in Matsumoto, Japan. String quartets still hold a cherished place in my heart. Wonderful memories from a very early age, with some of the most personal and unique masterpieces in classical music, make a powerful combination -- those late Beethoven quartets sometimes feel like they dropped from the sky. I will never forget hearing Opus 132 for the first time: It was one of the Juilliard String Quartet's home concerts, and I was still quite young -- that slow movement was the most intense thing I had ever heard!"

Delighted to join this august group, Eanet embraces its tradition of teaching and inspiring new works: "The importance of the JSQ to the world of string quartets is impossible to calculate. Just the number of important commissions they have added to this already-rich repertoire would be a major accomplishment -- or their role in mentoring almost all the major American string quartets. And then there are those incredible recordings... It's intensely exciting to now share the responsibility for such an important institution. I can't wait to start the adventure."

The Ravinia program will include works by Schubert, Bartok and Mendelssohn; the complete program is as follows:

Schubert - Quartet No. 13 in A minor, D. 804, Op. 29, "Rosamunde"

Bartok - String Quartet No. 2

Mendelssohn - Quartet in F minor, Op. 80

(Program subject to change)

About the Juilliard String Quartet

The Juilliard String Quartet was founded as Juilliard's resident string quartet in 1946 by then-Juilliard President William Schuman. The current Quartet with violinist Joel Smirnoff has been together since 1997, when the founding violinist of the Quartet, Robert Mann, retired after 50 years. At that time, Mr. Smirnoff assumed the first violin position, with Ronald Copes joining as second violin.

Nick Eanet was a member of the Mendelssohn String Quartet earlier in his career and had continued his chamber music performance while a member of the Met Opera Orchestra since 1999. He is also an experienced teacher of his instrument; while a member of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, he was in residence and taught at Harvard University. He also was a member of the faculty of the University of Delaware and the North Carolina School of the Arts.

As champions of contemporary music since their founding, the Juilliard String Quartet's commissioned works come from noted composers such as Milton Babbitt, Ralph Shapey, Ezekiel Viñao, and Richard Wernick. In 2007-08, the Juilliard String Quartet offered special programming in honor of Elliott Carter's 100th birthday, and on April 29, 2008 at Juilliard, the Quartet, with clarinetist and Juilliard faculty member Charles Neidich, performed the world premiere of Elliott Carter's Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet. In addition to the Quartet's North American performances, tours of Asia and Europe are planned for the 2009—2010 season.

Tickets for the July 8 concert at Ravinia go on sale to the general
public on April 16 exclusively at

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