The visionary performances of the Borromeo String Quartet have established them as one of the most important string quartets of our time. Now celebrating their 25th anniversary, the Borromeo have performed a vast repertoire worldwide and collaborated with many of today’s great composers and performers. They have been the faculty ensemble-in-residence at the New England Conservatory of Music for twenty-two years and work extensively with the Library of Congress, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Audiences and critics alike have championed the Borromeo’s ability to bring back the contemporary fire to often-heard repertoire, while making even the most challenging new music approachable. “To hear and see them perform has always felt to me like taking a private tour through a composer’s mind,” says Cathy Fuller, Classical New England host on WGBH radio. “They probe and analyze from every angle until they discover how to best unveil the psychological, physical, and spiritual states that a great piece of music evokes. They’re champions of new music…but they also thrive on making the old classics sound vital and fresh.”
The quartet has presented string quartet cycles by Lera Auerbach, Bartók, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Janá?ek, Schoenberg, Gunther Schuller, Shostakovich, and Schubert, and will begin their first cycle of the Tchaikovsky string quartets at the Gardner Museum this season. They’ve enjoyed collaborations with composers John Cage, Gyorgy Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Jennifer Higdon, Steve Mackey, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Derek Bermel, Lior Navok, Pierre Jalbert, James Matheson, and Curt Cacioppo, among many others.
The Borromeo have been trailblazers in the use of laptop computers for reading music. This method allows them to perform entirely from 4-part scores and also composer’s manuscripts, a revealing and transformative experience that they now teach to students around the world. In concert they often employ projections of handwritten manuscripts to vividly illustrate the creative process. In 2003, the Borromeo became the first classical ensemble to make their own live concert recordings and videos on tour and distribute them to audiences through the Borromeo Living Archive.
Highlights of their 2014-15 season include concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Terra di Siena Chamber Music Festival in Tuscany, and a tour of China with stops in Beijing, Xi’an, and Tianjin. They will give a portrait concert of music by Menachem Weisenberg at Northeastern University and a special series of summer concerts to honor the 25th anniversary of the Borromeo’s celebrated artist residency at the Gardner Museum, called “one of the defining experiences of civilization in Boston” [Boston Globe]. The Library of Congress, Gardner Museum, and St. Stephen’s Concert Series in North Carolina will all be presenting the Borromeo’s signature cycle of Bartok String Quartets as well as their new “BARTOK: PATHS NOT TAKEN” presentation, which gives audiences a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear a set of rediscovered alternate movements that Béla Bartók wrote for his six Quartets, but shelved away. They join the Emerson Quartet as the 2014-15 Hittman Ensembles in Residence at Peabody Institute in Baltimore, and will conduct substantial artist residencies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, the University of Central Arkansas, and the Taos School of Music.
The Borromeo Quartet have received many awards throughout their illustrious career, including Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Career Grant and Martin E. Segal Award, and Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award. They won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and top prizes at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France.
Borromeo Quartet last performed for La Jolla Music Society in SummerFest 2010.