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Aizuri Quartet

New York City, NY            

Praised by The Washington Post for “captivating” performances that draw from its notable “meld of intellect, technique and emotions,” the Aizuri Quartet was awarded the Grand Prize and the CAG Management Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, along with top prizes at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan, and the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London. The Quartet’s debut album, Blueprinting, featuring new works written for the Aizuri Quartet by five American composers, was released by New Amsterdam Records and nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY Award.

Through its engaging and thought-provoking programs, branded by The New York Times as “genuinely exciting” and “imaginative,” the Quartet has garnered critical acclaim for bringing “a technical bravado and emotional power” to bold new commissions, and for its “flawless” (San Diego Union-Tribune) performances of the great masterpieces of the past. In the 2019-20 season the group will tour extensively across North America giving both debut appearances at Lincoln Center and at Carnegie Hall as part of CAG Winner’s Series.

Based in New York City, the Aizuri Quartet was the 2017-2018 MetLiveArts String Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they presented five unique programs throughout the season, leading The New York Times to applaud them as “a quartet of expert collaborators, who cogently traverse a range of repertoire staples and modern works.” Previous residency engagements include: the 2015-2016 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts; resident ensemble of the 2014 Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute; and, from 2014-2016, the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

The Quartet has performed extensively throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Japan, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, and Abu Dhabi, and has commissioned and premiered new works by Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, Lembit Beecher, Paul Wiancko, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Gabriella Smith, Rene Orth, Michi Wiancko, and Alyssa Weinberg. Its critically acclaimed debut album, Blueprinting, which showcased many of these new pieces, was nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY award in the category of “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.”

Formed in 2012 and combining four distinctive musical personalities into a unique collective, the Aizuri Quartet draws its name from “aizuri-e,” a style of predominantly blue Japanese woodblock printing that is noted for its vibrancy and incredible detail.

Aizuri Quartet performs Lembit Beecher’s “Sophia’s Wide Awake Dreams”

Written for string quartet, custom music box, and electronically-controlled sound sculptures Sophia’s Wide Awake Dreams was adapted from Lembit Beecher’s opera Sophia’s Forest. These two movements suggest the inner imaginative world of the protagonist, a 9-year old recent immigrant to the United States named Sophia. In the opera, Sophia confides in a music box that gradually comes alive in her mind, a mechanical creature both comforting and dangerous, who shields her from the outside world.

From Blueprinting (New Amsterdam Records, 2018)

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The M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition: Grand Prize Round (2018)

(0:23) String Quartet in C Major, op. 20, no. 2 (1772)
I. Moderato (exposition only)
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

(4:40) RIPEFG (2016)
I. Vivo
Yevgeniy Sharlat (b. 1977)

(9:28) String Quartet in E-flat Major, op. 74, “Harp” (1809)
III. Presto – Più presto quasi prestissimo
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

(14:53) O tenebroso giorno (1611)
Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613)
arr. Alex Fortes

(17:52) LIFT for String Quartet, Part III
Paul Wiancko (b. 1983)

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Aizuri Quartet performs Gabriella Smith’s “Carrot Revolution”

A fresh take on a traditional art form, Gabriella Smith’s Carrot Revolution (2015) is full of twists and surprises, reinventing the sounds a string quartet can produce.

Commissioned by Curtis on Tour and the Barnes Foundation. Recorded and produced by Ryan Streber at Oktaven Audio. Video by Four/Ten Media.

From the Aizuri Quartet’s debut album Blueprinting (New Amsterdam Records, 2018)

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