Online Press Kit
Montclair State University
About the Quartet
Weigang Li, violin
Yi-Wen Jiang, violin
Honggang Li, viola
Nicholas Tzavaras, cello
“A wonderfully ferocious and illuminating performance.” - Washington Post
Renowned for its passionate musicality, impressive technique and multicultural innovations, the Shanghai Quartet has become one of the world's foremost chamber ensembles. Its elegant style melds the delicacy of Eastern music with the emotional breadth of Western repertoire, allowing it to traverse musical genres from traditional Chinese folk music and masterpieces of Western music to cutting-edge contemporary works.
Formed at the Shanghai Conservatory in 1983, the Shanghai Quartet has worked with the world's most distinguished artists and regularly tours the major music centers of Europe, North America and Asia. Recent performances have ranged from the International Music Festivals of Seoul and Beijing to the Festival Pablo Casals in France, Beethoven Festival in Poland, Yerevan Festival in Armenia and Cartagena International Music Festival in Colombia, as well as numerous concerts in all regions of North America. The Quartet has appeared at Carnegie Hall in chamber performances and with orchestra; in 2006 they gave the premiere of Takuma Itoh's Concerto for Quartet and Orchestra in Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern Auditorium. Among innumerable collaborations with noted artists, they have performed with the Tokyo, Juilliard and Guarneri Quartets, Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, Menahem Pressler, Peter Serkin, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Wu Man and Chanticleer. They have been regular performers at many of the leading chamber music festivals in North America including Santa Fe and Ottawa.
The Quartet has a long history of championing new music and juxtaposing Eastern and Western sounds. Important commissions and premieres include works by Lowell Lieberman, Sebastian Currier, Lei Liang, Marc Neikrug and Zhou Long. The 2011-12 season brought premieres of Bright Sheng's Dance Capriccio for Piano Quintet with pianist Peter Serkin and Sweet Suite, a piano quintet by Stephen Prutsman. Dan Welcher's Museon Polemos for double quartetr will premiere in September 2012 with the Miro Quartet at the University of Texas at Austin. A concerto for string quartet and symphony orchestra by Korean composer by Jeajoon Ryu will premiere in 2013 as part of the quartet's 30th Anniversary season.
The Shanghai Quartet's 25th anniversary season in 2008-9 featured world premieres from the three continents that comprise its artistic and cultural worlds: Penderecki's String Quartet No. 3: Leaves From an Unwritten Diary, Chen Yi's From the Path of Beauty, jazz pianist Dick Hyman's String Quartet, and String Quartet No. 2 by Vivian Fung. Penderecki's String Quartet was premiered at a special concert in Poland honoring the composer's 75th birthday, followed by U.S. Premieres at Montclair State University and the Modlin Center, University of Richmond and numerous subsequent performances worldwide. They will plerform it again in Poland for the composer's 80th Birthday celebration in November 2013. Chen Yi's From the Path of Beauty, commissioned with Chanticleer, was premiered in San Francisco, with performances at Tanglewood and Ravinia and in Beijing and Shanghai.
The Shanghai Quartet has an extensive discography of more than 30 recordings. Releases range from the Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets with Rudolf Buchbinder to Zhou Long's Poems from Tang for string quartet and orchestra with the Singapore Symphony (BIS). Delos released the Quartet's most popular disc, Chinasong, in 2003: a collection of Chinese folk songs arranged by Yi-Wen Jiang reflecting on his childhood memories of the Cultural Revolution in China. The Shanghai Quartet recorded the complete Beethoven String Quartets for Camerata, a seven-disc project that was completed in 2009.
The Quartet has participated in a diverse and interesting array of media projects, from a cameo appearance playing Bartok's String Quartet No. 4 in Woody Allen's film “Melinda and Melinda” to PBS television's Great Performances series. Violinist Weigang Li appeared in the documentary “From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China,” and the family of cellist Nicholas Tzavaras was the subject of the 1999 film “Music of the Heart,” starring Meryl Streep.
The Shanghai Quartet currently serves as Quartet-in-Residence at Montclair State University in New Jersey, Ensemble-in-Residence with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and visiting guest professors of the Shanghai Conservatory and the Central Conservatory in Beijing.