"The performances were everything we have come to expect from this superb ensemble: technically resourceful, musically insightful, cohesive, full of character and always interesting."
— The New York Times
"The Emerson String Quartet...has the easy virtuosity, precise sense of ensemble, rhythmic vigor, and rich polished tone..."
— The Washington Post
"The Emerson performances represented an extraordinary fusion of experience and authority with audacity and freshness."
— The Boston Globe
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The Emerson String Quartet returns for its 34th season at the Smithsonian when it opens a five-concert series on Sunday, Nov. 3 at Baird Auditorium. British cellist Paul Watkins has joined violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer and violist Lawrence Dutton to become the ensemble’s first new member in more than three decades.
To Order Tickets:
(1) Click on the individual concert links along the left side of this page to order online.
(2) Call 202.633.3030 (M-F, 9-5).
The Emerson String Quartet’s list of achievements includes everything from nine Grammy Awards to the coveted Avery Fisher Prize to their 2011 induction into the Classical Music Hall of Fame. In a January 2013 review of the quartet’s Carnegie Hall appearance, the New York Times noted that “their impeccable blend and rich, muscular sound have long impressed in a range of repertory” and singled out their performance of a Brahms work for its “beautifully shaped, polished reading, distinguished by its expressive phrasing and the glowing tone of individual performers.” Time has declared them “American’s greatest quartet.”
Established in 1976, the Emerson String Quartet, who derived its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson features violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton, and the newest member, cellist Paul Watkins. In addition to its educational affiliation with Carnegie Hall, in the fall of 2002, the Emerson joined Stony Brook University as Quartet-in-Residence, coaching chamber music, giving master classes, and providing instrumental instruction.
Throughout its history, the Emerson String Quartet has garnered an international reputation for groundbreaking chamber music projects and recordings for Deutsche Grammophon.
Eugene Drucker, violin
A founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, Eugene Drucker has also been active as a solo artist. He has appeared with the orchestras of Montreal, Brussels, Antwerp, Liege, Austin, Hartford, Richmond, Toledo, and the Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra and the Aspen Chamber Symphony.
A graduate of Columbia University and the Juilliard School where he studied with Oscar Shumsky, Drucker was concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra, with which he appeared as a soloist several times. He made his New York debut as a Concert Artists Guild winner in the fall of 1976, after having won prizes at the Montreal Competition and the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.
Philip Setzer, violin
Philip Setzer was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and began studying violin at the age of five with his parents, both violinists with the Cleveland Orchestra. He continued his studies with Josef Gingold and Rafael Druian, and later at the Juilliard School with Oscar Shumsky. In 1967, Setzer won second prize at the Meriwether Post Competition in Washington, D.C., and in 1976 he received a bronze medal at the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels.
He has appeared with the National Symphony, Aspen Chamber Symphony (David Robertson, conductor), Memphis Symphony (Michael Stern), New Mexico and Puerto Rico Symphonies (Guillermo Figueroa), Omaha and Anchorage Symphonies (David Loebel), and on several occasions with the Cleveland Orchestra (Louis Lane). He has also participated in the Marlboro Music Festival.
Lawrence Dutton, viola
Lawrence Dutton, violist and eight-time Grammy Award winner, has collaborated with many of the world's great performing artists, including Isaac Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich, Oscar Shumsky, Leon Fleisher, Walter Trampler, Menahem Pressler, Lynn Harrell, Yefim Bronfman, Joseph Kalichstein, Misha Dichter, Jan DeGaetani, and Edgar Meyer. He has also performed as guest artist with numerous chamber music ensembles such as the Juilliard and Guarneri quartets, the Beaux Arts Trio, and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. In March 2007 he toured in chamber music performances with cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and violinist Robert McDuffie.
With the Beaux Arts Trio he recorded the Shostakovich "Piano Quintet, Op. 57," and the "Fauré G-minor Piano Quartet, Op. 45," on the Philips label. His Aspen Music Festival recording with Jan DeGaetani for Bridge records was nominated for a 1992 Grammy Award. For BRAVO cable television he recorded works by Stravinsky and Hindemith. He is currently a professor of viola and chamber music at the Manhattan School of Music and Stony Brook University. He earned a bachelor's and master's degree from the Juilliard School of Music where he studied with Lillian Fuchs.
Paul Watkins, cello
As the newest member of the quartet, Paul Watkins enjoys a distinguished career as solo cellist, conductor, and chamber musician. As concerto soloist, he has performed regularly with all the major British orchestras and made six appearances at the BBC Proms. Recent highlights have included his debut at Carnegie Hall performing Brahms' Double Concerto with Daniel Hope, and concerto appearances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras.
He has conducted all the principal British orchestras including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, and Philharmonia Orchestras, and worked with many prestigious orchestras worldwide including the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, and the Prague Symphony at the Prague Spring Festival.