Emerson String Quartet

    The Emerson String Quartet, which ranks among the best chamber music ensembles of the world, will perform at Mandeville Auditorium at 8 p.m. on Oct. 15. Renowned for their adept interpretations of classic and modern pieces, as well as their sonically exhilarating chemistry, the Emerson String Quartet is a must-see for fans of classical music. Formed in 1976, the group is comprised of founding members Philip Setzer and Eugene Drucker on violins (they alternate first-chair duties), as well as violist Lawrence Dutton and cellist David Finkel. Each of the members possesses a litany of accolades for playing individually, and together the interplay between the genius performers has recently earned them the ultra-prestigious 2004 Avery Fisher prize, awarded for the first time ever to a chamber ensemble. They have won Grammy awards for their Shostakovich, Bartok, Beethoven, Barber and Ives recordings, and their recorded performances of Bartok’s six string quartets are considered by many to be the master recorded versions. The quartet plays more than a hundred concerts each year, including many benefits for global issues such as world hunger, AIDS and nuclear disarmament.

    The Emerson String Quartet will begin this year’s ArtPower! chamber season by breathing new life into Mozart’s Quartet in G, K. 387, one of six quartets that Mozart dedicated to his friend Joseph Haydn. Second on the bill is Lord Benjamin Britten’s Quartet No. 2 in C Major, Op. 36, a choice that aligns with the Emerson String Quartet’s desire to popularize 20th-century chamber music. The third piece will be Mendelssohn’s Op. 44, No. 1, a piece that Mendelssohn cherished for its “passion.” In an effort to foment cultural education in UCSD students, there is a half-price discount to all UCSD students for ArtPower!-sponsored events. That means $13 to students, an incredible deal for a group of the Emerson String Quartet’s renown.

    The particular instruments that the Emerson String Quartet play are as legendary as the players themselves. Nicolas Lupot, who was considered to be one of the best French luthiers, crafted Setzer’s violin in 1793-era Orleans, France. Dutton plays a 1796 Milanese Mantegazza, and Drucker uses a 1686 Stradivari (Yes, the Stradivari). These instruments are the musical equivalent of a classic Ferrari 250 GTO: rare, priceless and the finest vessels in which technical skill can be transformed into beautiful art.

    So go out to a fancy dinner in La Jolla (try to hit it during happy hour, many out-of-price restaurants can be had cheaply) with that girl/guy you met at Fall Fest, and show them that you have a little bit of class by taking them out to a night of world-famous chamber music (interested, ladies?). It beats watching “Joan of Arcadia.”

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