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Parker Quartet Goes to Harvard

Ensemble Takes Up Extended Residency in 2014

NEC-educated Parker Quartet To Begin Extended Residency at Harvard University

The acclaimed Parker Quartet, whose members studied at NEC as undergraduates and then completed NEC’s Professional String Quartet Training Program in 2008, is returning to Boston in fall 2014.  The ensemble has been named the Blodgett Quartet-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Music Department for an extended tenure. The residency has been expanded to a full-time position during which the quartet will teach, participate in class demonstrations, read and perform student compositions, and coach Harvard undergraduate chamber ensembles in weekly master classes for Harvard credit. “The Parker Quartet’s full time presence in the program will allow for the expansion of the chamber music and performance study opportunities for students in the Harvard University Music Department,” according to the Harvard announcement.

Formed in 2002, the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet has rapidly distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation. It is composed of violinists Daniel Chong ’04, ’08 MM and Ying Xue ’08, ’10 MM, ’11 GD, violist Jessica Bodner ’04, ’08 MM, and cellist Kee-Hyun Kim ’05 ’08 MM.

The New York Times hailed the quartet as “something extraordinary,” and the Boston Globe acclaimed their “pinpoint precision and spectacular sense of urgency.” The quartet began touring on the international circuit after winning the Concert Artists Guild Competition as well as the Grand Prix and Mozart Prize at the Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition in France. Chamber Music America awarded the quartet the prestigious biennial Cleveland Quartet Award for the 2009-2011 seasons. 

Performance highlights from recent seasons include appearances at Carnegie Hall, 92nd Street Y, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Libapricrary of Congress, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Wigmore Hall in London, Musikverein in Vienna, Monte Carlo Spring Festival, Seoul Arts Center, Rockport Chamber Music Festival, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele in Germany, and San Miguel de Allende Festival in Mexico. The quartet recently collaborated with artists including Kim Kashkashian, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Anne-Marie McDermott, Shai Wosner, Jörg Widmann, and Claron McFaddon. In 2012 the Parker Quartet was the recipient of a Chamber Music America commissioning grant, enabling the ensemble to commission and premiere Capriccio, an hour-length work by American composer Jeremy Gill. This upcoming season includes return engagements to Carnegie Hall, Library of Congress, and Monte Carlo Spring Festival, performances of the Beethoven quartets on the Slee Series in Buffalo, and collaborations with Kikuei Ikeda of the now retired Tokyo String Quartet.

Successful early concert touring in Europe helped the quartet forge a relationship with Zig-Zag Territoires, which released their debut commercial recording of Bartók’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 5 in July 2007. The disc earned high praise from numerous critics, including Gramophone: “The Parkers’ Bartók spins the illusion of spontaneous improvisation… they have absorbed the language; they have the confidence to play freely with the music and the instinct to bring it off.” The quartet’s second recording, of György Ligeti’s complete works for string quartet was released on Naxos in December 2009 to critical acclaim. This recording won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance.

The Parker Quartet holds teaching and performance residencies at the University of South Carolina and the University of St. Thomas. From 2008 to 2013, the quartet spent much of its time in St. Paul, MN, where they served as Quartet-in-Residence with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (2008-2010), were the first-ever Artists-in-Residence with Minnesota Public Radio (2009-2010), and visiting artists at the University of Minnesota (2011-2012).