A unique and versatile cello quintet, hailed as “brilliant” and “superb” by Mark Swed in The Los Angeles Times, the SAKURA Cello Quintet is built on the artistry and virtuosity of its members: Michael Kaufman, Benjamin Lash, Gabriel Martins, Yoshika Masuda, and Peter Myers. Drawing from the rich heritage of a repertoire that spans eight centuries, inventive programs are constructed around conceptual threads, with a commitment to opening new vistas of beauty and expression by showcasing the great warmth and scope of five cellos.
SAKURA explores great music of the past through dazzling arrangements that offer fresh perspectives on familiar notes, and continually expands the five-cello repertoire into the future by commissioning new works. In the tradition of the great chamber ensembles, the quintet distills its interpretations through time, reveling in the pure sonic pleasure of a unified and colorful sound. Its name honors the great mentor and artist Ralph Kirshbaum, with whom all five members studied: sakura (桜) (Japanese) and Kirschbaum (German) have the same meaning: “cherry tree,” an organism whose flowers have five petals.
Performance highlights have included the premiere of the world’s first concerto for five cellos and orchestra (Thomas Mellan’s “…on transcendence…”), and concert appearances across the country. Upcoming performances include an appearance in Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the 2020 Piatigorsky International Cello Festival. SAKURA was awarded two prestigious grants to commission new cello quintets: a Tarisio grant for five young American composers and a New Music USA grant for Donald Crockett. The quintet also serves as Young-Ensemble-in-Residence of the Da Camera Society.