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JACK Quartet

The JACK Quartet, often known simply as JACK, has specialized in the performance of contemporary music for string quartet. In addition to performing and recording, the group's work has a strong educational component. The JACK Quartet was founded in 2005 by violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Kevin McFarland, whose initials spelled out the name. The original members were students at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, but it was in New York City that they joined forces and studied with the Kronos, Arditti, and Muir Quartets. Violinist Austin Wulliman and cellist Jay Campbell replaced Streisfeld and McFarland in 2016, but the name was retained. JACK has performed at top international venues, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, and the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam. It has appeared not only at venerable outposts of the European avant-garde, such as the Donaueschingen Festival in Germany, the Venice Biennale in Italy, and the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, but also at Indonesia's Bali Arts Festival, with works by such composers as Iannis Xenakis, Georg Friedrich Haas, Helmut Lachenmann, and Steve Reich at the center of its repertory. It has been heard on several programs on U.S. National Public Radio and its affiliates, as well as on national radio in Australia. In 2009, JACK made its recording debut with an album of the complete string quartets of Iannis Xenakis. JACK has combined concertizing with a strong educational mission. It has begun educational residencies with composition students from institutions, including New York University, Columbia University, and the University of Iowa, with whose String Quartet Residency Program it has a long relationship. The group has held summer teaching residencies at New Music on the Point, a contemporary chamber music festival in Vermont for young performers and composers. Additionally, the quartet makes regular visits to schools such as Columbia University, Harvard University, and Stanford University. JACK has recorded for the Mode, Tzadik, and Wergo labels, among others; the year 2018 saw the group collaborate with mezzo-soprano Inbal Hever on a release of music by Chaya Czernowin. The JACK Quartet remained busy through the COVID-19 pandemic, issuing no fewer than six albums in the musically depressed year of 2020 alone. The quartet released the album Christopher Otto: rags'ma on the Greyfade label in 2021 and returned in 2022 on Naxos with the album Derek Bermel: Intonations. The group was also heard with the choir The Crossing on the album Sila -- The Breath of the World that year on the Cantaloupe label.
© James Manheim /TiVo


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