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The JUILLIARD STRING QUARTET is internationally renowned and admired for performances characterized by a clarity of structure, beauty of sound, purity of line, and an extraordinary unanimity of purpose. Celebrated for its performances of works by composers as diverse as Beethoven, Schubert, Bartók, and Elliott Carter, it has been recognized for over 50 years as the quintessential American string quartet.
The 2005/06 season began with return visits to the Ravinia and Tanglewood festivals, followed by a West Coast tour which once again includes a pair of concerts presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Walt Disney Concert Hall. Immediately thereafter, the Quartet returns to Lincoln Center in New York to play the world premiere of Ezequiel Viñao's Quartet II, "The Loss and the Silence," commissioned for them by the Juilliard School in honor of its 2006 centennial. In its fall tour of Europe, the Juilliard Quartet is joined again by famed oboist Heinz Holliger. In the second half of the season the Quartet returns to Germany, Spain, Estonia, and Austria, where they celebrate the 250th Mozart birthday at the Musikverein in Vienna in a concert with Emmanuel Ax. Further touring in America includes their annual concerts in Boston, Washington, Detroit, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, as well as performances in the Midwest, Canada, and New England.
In celebration of the Quartet's 50th anniversary, Sony Classical released seven CDs containing previously unreleased material as well as notable performances from the Quartet's award-winning discography. With more than 100 releases to its credit, the ensemble is one of the most widely recorded string quartets of our time; and its recordings of the complete Beethoven quartets, the complete Schoenberg quartets, and the Debussy and Ravel string quartets have all received Grammy awards.
Violinist Joel Smirnoff is a native of New York City and has been a member of the Quartet since 1986, and the ensemble's leader since 1997. Formerly the group's second violinist, Smirnoff attended the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School and was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for six years. Smirnoff has participated in the world premiere of numerous contemporary works, many of which were composed for him. He is chair of the Violin Department at the Juilliard School, and pursues an active career as a conductor, both in the U.S. and abroad.
In 1997 violinist Ronald Copes joined the ensemble as second violinist and was appointed to the violin faculty at the Juilliard School. Formerly a member of the Dunsmuir Piano Quartet, the Los Angeles Piano Quartet, and the Audubon String Quartet, he served on the faculties of the University of California at Santa Barbara and Michigan State Universities. During the summers, he performs and teaches at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival in Blue Hill, Maine and has been a participant at the Bermuda, Cheltenham, Colorado, Marlboro, and Olympic music festivals. Born in Arkansas, Copes studied at the Oberlin Conservatory with David Cerone, and at the University of Michigan with Paul Makanowitzky.
Violist Samuel Rhodes, also a New York native, appears in recitals and as orchestral soloist in addition to his activities as a composer and teacher. Celebrating his 36th season as violist of the Juilliard String Quartet and faculty member and chair of viola at the Juilliard School, he is also associated with the Marlboro Festival and Tanglewood. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Queens College and an MFA from Princeton University where he studied composition with Roger Sessions and Earl Kim. Other teachers include Sydney Beck and Walter Trampler.
Born in Connecticut to a family of enthusiastic amateur musicians, Joel Krosnick has been cellist of the Juilliard String Quartet since 1974. With pianist Gilbert Kalish, his sonata partner of over 20 years, he performs annual recitals and has recorded much of the sonata repertoire. Krosnick's principal teachers were William D'Amato, Luigi Silva, Jens Nygaard, and Claus Adam, whom he succeeded in the Juilliard Quartet. While at Columbia University, he began his lifelong commitment to contemporary music and has performed and premiered many new works including Donald Martino's Cello Concerto, Richard Wernick's Cello Concerto No. 2, and several works by Ralph Shapey. Appointed to the faculty of the Juilliard School in 1974, Krosnick has been Chair of the Cello Department since 1994.