The Escher Quartet has been acclaimed for its profound musical insight and rare tonal beauty. Championed by the Emerson String Quartet, the Escher has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, Australia, and Asia. From 2010-12, the quartet served as BBC New Generation Artists, and gave debuts at both Wigmore Hall and the BBC Proms. In its home town of New York, the ensemble serves as Artists of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, where last season they presented a critically acclaimed 3-concert series featuring the quartets of Benjamin Britten. In 2013, the quartet was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. The current season sees the Escher Quartet's debut at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, as well as at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel. In addition, the quartet tours the UK with pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, and continues its relationship with Wigmore Hall, returning to collaborate with jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman. The Escher finishes the season with a return to Music@Menlo.
The Escher Quartet has performed at the Cheltenham and City of London festivals, the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and at the Ravinia and Caramoor festivals. Elsewhere, the quartet has toured China and made its Australian debut at the Perth International Arts Festival. Last season, the ensemble returned to Wigmore Hall, and made debuts in Switzerland at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève and in Austria at the Schloss Esterházy in Eisenstadt. The Escher Quartet has recorded the complete Zemlinsky String Quartets on the Naxos label and released Volume 1 in July 2013; Volume 2 follows in summer 2014. Upcoming releases include the Mendelssohn Quartet cycle for the Swedish label BIS.
Within months of its inception in 2005, the Escher Quartet was invited by both Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman to be Quartet in Residence at each artist's summer festival: the Young Artists Programme at Canada’s National Arts Centre and the Perlman Chamber Music Program on Shelter Island, NY. The quartet takes its name from Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher, inspired by Escher’s method of interplay between individual components working together to form a whole. http://escherquartet.com/
The recipient of a prestigious 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, American violist Matthew Lipman has been hailed by the New York Times for his "rich tone and elegant phrasing" and by the Chicago Tribune for his "splendid technique and musical sensitivity." As one of the most promising young advocates of his instrument, his debut recording of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with violinist Rachel Barton Pine and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields with Sir Neville Marriner was released last year on the Avie label and reached No. 2 on the Billboard classical charts. Next season, Mr. Lipman will debut as soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra and Illinois Philharmonic, and he has performed concertos with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Wisconsin Chamber, Juilliard, Ars Viva Symphony, and Montgomery Symphony orchestras and recitals at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., South Orange Performing Arts Center in New Jersey. The only violist featured on WFMT Chicago’s international list of 30 Under 30 top classical musicians, he has been profiled by The Strad and BBC Music magazines and performed Penderecki’s Cadenza for solo viola live on WQXR New York with the composer in attendance. Mr. Lipman has performed with the Chamber Music Society at Alice Tully Hall, Wigmore Hall, and at the Kissinger Sommer Festival in Germany as a member of CMS Two and was a top prizewinner of the Tertis, Primrose, Washington, and Stulberg International competitions and is a NFMC Young Artist. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees as an inaugural Kovner fellow from The Juilliard School, where he continues to serve as teaching assistant to Heidi Castleman, and he has also studied with Misha Amory, Steven Tenenbom and Roland Vamos. A native of Chicago, Mr. Lipman performs on a fine 1700 Matteo Goffriller viola loaned through the generous efforts of the RBP Foundation.
Praised for his “virtuosic,” “dazzling" and “brilliant” performances (The New York Times) and his “bold, keen sound” (The New Yorker), oboist James Austin Smith performs equal parts new and old music across the United States and around the world. Mr. Smith is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Talea Ensemble and Cygnus as well as co-Artistic Director of Decoda, the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall. He is a member of the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase and is co-Artistic Director of Tertulia, a chamber music series that takes place in restaurants in New York and San Francisco. Mr. Smith’s festival appearances include Marlboro, Lucerne, Chamber Music Northwest, Schleswig-Holstein, Stellenbosch, Bay Chamber Concerts, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, OK Mozart, Schwetzingen and Spoleto USA; he has performed with the St. Lawrence, Orion and Parker string quartets and recorded for the Nonesuch, Bridge, Mode and Kairos labels. His debut solo recording "Distance" was released in early 2015 on South Africa's TwoPianists Record Label.
Mr. Smith received his Master of Music degree in 2008 from the Yale School of Music and graduated in 2005 with Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) and Bachelor of Music degrees from Northwestern University. He spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Leipzig, Germany at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy” and is an alumnus of Ensemble ACJW, a collaboration of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, the Weill Music Institute and the New York City Department of Education. Mr. Smith’s principal teachers are Stephen Taylor, Christian Wetzel, Humbert Lucarelli and Ray Still.
The son of musician parents and eldest of four boys, Mr. Smith was born in New York and raised in Connecticut.