The Jacobs School of Music announced this week that the world-renowned Pacifica Quartet will be joining the music faculty as the quartet in residence, beginning their tenure at the university in the fall of this year. The appointment of the Pacifica Quartet ends a fifty-year drought at the School of Music as far as a string quartet in residence goes. According to Jacobs School Dean of Music Gwyn Richards, “It has been more than 50 years since Indiana University has had a quartet-in-residence, with all members on the faculty. During that time, the role of chamber music in the education of our students has become a gateway to multiple artistic realms. It is particularly exciting to know that the Pacifica Quartet will join us now, as we continue to develop this area of our school.”
The Jacobs School of Music has long enjoyed a sterling reputation as one of the country’s finest and best-known music schools, although it only recently came by its current nomenclature. In this time, the string faculty in particular has featured some of the most celebrated names in string pedagogy and performance, and that tradition continues today. The faculty of the string department, however distinguished, has been conscious for some time of the gap in the string quartet residency and the effect that it had on the chamber music life of the students at IU. “Having the Pacifica Quartet as quartet-in-residence fulfills a long-held passion of virtually every string faculty member of the Jacobs School of Music for such a group,” says Lawrence Hurst, chair of the Jacobs School’s String Department, “The Pacifica has everything one associates with great chamber music: artistry, passion, precision, communication and great style. Added to these attributes is a dedication to teaching and students that is unusual among such ensembles. We have a perfect fit for Indiana University and the Jacobs School of Music.”
The quartet itself–made up of violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violist Masumi Per Rostad, and cellist Brandon Vamos–has had a career that is certainly on par with what would be expected of a string quartet in residence at such a storied school. Formed in 1994, the ensemble won the 1998 Naumburg Prize and has since received many honors, including an appointment as quartet-in-residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009-12), a position previously held by the Guarneri Quartet.They have since been named Musical America’s 2009 Ensemble of the Year, the Pacifica Quartet and have also, in the same year, received a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance in a recording of the Elliott Carter String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5.
Prior to their appointment at the Jacobs School, the members of the Pacifica Quartet were appointed to the faculty of the University of Illinois, where they served as quartet-in-residence from 2003 -2012. They are also currently performing artists in residence at the University of Chicago. When they take up their positions at the Jacobs School, they will be involved in both the educational and performance sides of things, from teaching privately and coaching chamber music to performing concerts. Interim Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel perhaps best sums up the upcoming collaboration: “The Jacobs School of Music is one of the crown jewels of the Bloomington campus. We are thrilled to add the world-class Pacifica Quartet to the excellent Jacobs faculty and to enhance opportunities for our students to study with chamber musicians of this caliber. Bravo!” No doubt the Jacobs School, Indiana University, and the Pacifica Quartet themselves are greatly looking forward to the possibilities that a future together may hold.