ILMAR GAVILÁN, VIOLIN
MELISSA WHITE, VIOLIN
JAIME AMADO, VIOLA
FELIX UMANSKY, CELLO
The HARLEM QUARTET, praised for its “panache” by The New York Times, is “bringing a new attitude to classical music, one that is fresh, bracing and intelligent,” says the Cincinnati Enquirer. The quartet’s mission is to advance diversity in classical music, engaging young and new audiences through the discovery and presentation of varied repertoire that includes works by minority composers. Since its public debut in 2006 at Carnegie Hall, the New York-based ensemble has performed throughout the U.S. as well as in France, the U.K., Belgium, Panama, Canada, and in South Africa, where under the auspices of the U.S. State Department they spent two weeks on tour performing concerts and participating in outreach activities. The Quartet completed the Professional String Quartet Residency Program at New England Conservatory in 2013, and participated in NEC’s string quartet exchange program in Paris, working extensively with violinist Günter Pichler. In addition to performing on chamber music series around the world, Harlem Quartet has collaborated with such distinguished performers as Itzhak Perlman, Ida Kavafian, Carter Brey, Paul Katz, Fred Sherry, Anthony McGill, Paquito D’Rivera, and Misha Dichter (with whom the quartet made their Kennedy Center debut in February 2013). Harlem Quartet has also worked closely with jazz legends Chick Corea and Gary Burton, with whom the quartet recorded the album titled “Hot House.” Following a concert tour of twenty-five major cities, the Harlem Quartet’s recording with Corea and Burton entitled “Mozart Goes Dancing” won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition in February 2013. The winning ensemble will continue their “Hot House Tour” in Japan in June 2014. Each member of the quartet is a seasoned solo artist, having appeared with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, and the Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, National, Utah, Puerto Rico, Juilliard, New World, and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras. Harlem Quartet’s solo work as an ensemble is also a significant part of their career. The quartet recorded the West Side Story arrangement, along with works for string quartet and orchestra by Michael Abels and Benjamin Lees, now available on the Cedille Records label.
The Harlem Quartet has been featured on WNBC, CNN, the Today Show, WQXR-FM, and the News Hour with Jim Lehrer. In 2009 they performed for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House and appeared Christmas morning on NBC’s Today Show. They made their European debut in October 2009 performing at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to the U.K., and returned to Europe as guest artists and faculty members of the Musica Mundi International Festival in Belgium. Harlem Quartet is regularly featured at jazz festivals around the world, including the Panama Jazz Festival in Panama City, Montreal Jazz Festival, and Miami Nice Jazz Festival. Their recording career began in 2007 when White Pine Music issued Take the “A” Train, a release featuring the string quartet version of that jazz standard by Billy Strayhorn; the CD was highlighted that year in the November issue of Strings magazine. A second CD, featuring works of Walter Piston, was released in 2010 by Naxos. The quartet’s third recording, released in early 2011, is a collaboration with pianist Awadagin Pratt and showcases works by American composer Judith Lang Zaimont. And two recording projects in collaboration with Chick Corea were completed at the end of the 2010-11 season. In May 2013, the quartet released a live CD from New York City’s Merkin Hall with works by Mozart and Schubert.
The Grammy award-winning Harlem Quartet begin their three-year Royal College of Music residency with a week of events and coaching sessions from 8–14 May. Melissa White, Harlem Quartet violinist, comments “We’re honoured to enter into this three-year residency at the Royal College of Music. We have the utmost respect and admiration for this institution, its world-class faculty and talented student body, and we’re excited to contribute to the long heritage of musical collaboration between our two great cities by bringing a piece of Harlem to London.”