This remarkable quartet - hailed as "a triumph of ensemble playing" by the New York Times - is a multi-faceted ensemble taking chamber music in new directions. Touring music of the masters as well as exciting original works from visionary composers of our time, the Fry Street Quartet has perfected a "blend of technical precision and scorching spontaneity" (Strad). Since securing the Grand Prize at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the quartet has reached audiences from Carnegie Hall to London, and Sarajevo to Jerusalem, exploring the medium of the string quartet and its life-affirming potential with "profound understanding...depth of expression, and stunning technical astuteness" (Deseret Morning News).
With a discography that includes a wide range of works from Haydn and Beethoven to Stravinsky, Janacek and Rorem, the quartet is known for being "Equally at home in the classic repertoire of Mozart and Beethoven or contemporary music," (Palm Beach Daily News).
The FSQ's tour repertoire reaches many corners of the musical spectrum, including works of Britten, Schubert, Beethoven and Bartok, as well as programs of American women composers Laura Kaminsky, Amy Beach, Joan Tower and a newly commissioned work by Libby Larsen. Over the next two seasons, the Salt Lake City-based NOVA series will present the FSQ’s complete Bartok Cycle, pairing these monumental works with Haydn’s String Quartets Op. 76.
In addition to collaborations with acclaimed instrumentalists (including Joseph Kalichstein, Wu Han, Paul Katz, Donald Weilerstein, Misha Dichter, Andres Cardenes and Roger Tapping, among others), the Fry Street Quartet has commissioned and toured new works by a wide range of composers. Pandemonium by Brazilian composer Clarice Assad received its Fry Street premiere with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra; Michael Ellison's Fiddlin' was co-commissioned by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music Series and the Salt Lake City based NOVA series; Laura Kaminsky's Rising Tide was commissioned especially for the quartet's global sustainability initiative, The Crossroads Project.
After more than 20 performances in three different countries, The Crossroads Project: Rising Tide continues to resonate with audiences. This fresh approach to communicating society’s sustainability challenges draws upon all the senses with a unique blend of science and art and has been featured on the NPR program joe’s big idea which aired during All Things Considered, as well as in publications by Yale Climate Connections, Reuters, and the New York Times. The quartet's 2014-2015 season included its premiere of Laura Kaminsky's new chamber opera, As One with soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone Kelly Markgraff at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as well as a new work by Libby Larsen entitled Emergence, which anchors the Crossroads Project’s second chapter, Crossroads: Emergence for string quartet, film, and actor.
The quartet's significant touring history includes performances at major venues, festivals, and for distinguished series such as Carnegie Hall and the Schneider Series at the New School in New York, the Jewel Box series in Chicago, Chamber Music Columbus, the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, the DiBartolo Performing Arts Center at Notre Dame, the Theosophical Society in London, and the Mozart Gemeinde in Klagenfurt, Austria.
The Fry Street Quartet is pleased to hold the Dan C. and Manon Caine Russell Endowed String Quartet Residency at the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University.
Founded in Chicago in 1997 under the mentorship of Marc Johnson, cellist of the Vermeer Quartet, Fry Street received rave reviews as prizewinners in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Yellow Springs Competition, and the Banff International String Quartet Competition. The quartet traveled to Israel to participate in the International Encounters Chamber Music Seminar in 2000, where they studied with Isaac Stern. He invited the quartet to the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshop in New York City, and subsequently arranged for the quartet's Carnegie Hall debut in 2001.
The Quartet's early years were also defined by a three-year "Rural Residency" in Hickory, NC, sponsored by Chamber Music America and the National Endowment for the Arts. It was during this period that the quartet cut its teeth winning competitions, building a local audience for the first time, and becoming relevant to the community with its powerful music making. The FSQ is proud that the residency in Hickory continues today, supported entirely by the community.
The FSQ began its international career as cultural ambassadors to the Balkan States, sponsored by Carnegie Hall and the U.S. Department of State. This tour featured the European debut of J. Mark Scearce's Y2K, commissioned for Fry Street with a grant from Meet the Composer. Subsequent international appearances include the ProQuartet Academy at Pont-Royal, France, the Prague Chamber Festival and Trutnov Autumn Festival in the Czech Republic, Kulturvereinigung Oberschützen in Austria, three visits to the Oficina de Musica de Curitiba, Brazil, and a tour to the United Kingdom.
A defining endeavor was the quartet's first complete Beethoven Quartet Cycle. "These works put players to the test in terms of interpretation, technique and musicianship. And the Fry Street Quartet made it look easy. They exhibited the highest standards of their craft both weekends. Solid technique, wonderful musicality and fabulous artistry combined to make the six concerts they played special. The Fry Street Quartet is without question to be reckoned with among today's quartets. It has arrived" (Deseret News). A sold-out event with pre-concert lectures by renowned scholar Robert Winter, the Cycle was presented at Utah State University over the course of two weeks, offering the audience a true immersion into the world of Beethoven.
The quartet created an innovative series called From Prodigy to Master, pairing early and late works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn with engaging modern compositions inspired by these masters of the quartet genre. Modern works included complete string quartets of Benjamin Britten, as well as a world premiere of st qt, dedicated to Fry Street by composer Thomas McFaul.
The Fry Street Quartet enjoys a continuing residency with the Salt Lake City-based NOVA series. Projects have included the Schoenberg Chamber Symphony under the direction of Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer, the Utah premieres of string quartets by Michael Ellison and Andrew Norman, and frequent collaborations with members of the Utah Symphony.
In 2002, the Fry Street Quartet was appointed Quartet in Residence at Utah State University, with major support from the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation. The members of the quartet set out to build a performance-based approach to the existing string program, largely still in its infancy. Today, the landscape is much transformed. What was once a very small program is now a vibrant center for string performance in the intermountain region; what was an emerging group of performers is now an established and internationally recognized ensemble; what was a collection of artistic departments is now a College in its own right. In 2012, the quartet residency at USU was endowed by Dan C. and Manon Caine Russell.