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Pacifica Quartet thrills Friends of Music audience

Members of the Pacifica Quartet following their performance at Tulane's Dixon Hall. (Credit: Alan Smason)

The Pacifica Quartet, considered one of the finest ensembles in all of classical music today, offered a night of virtuosity on January 25 at Tulane’s Dixon Hall as part of the New Orleans Friends of Music series. The quartet members, who serve as quartet-in-residence and on the faculty of the University of Chicago have an extensive touring schedule in the Americas and Asia and also have been selected as the quartet-in-residence for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In less than 20 years since its foundation in California in 1994, the Pacifica Quartet composed of lone female violinist Simin Ganatra and her three male ensemble members Sibbi Bernhardsson (violin), Masumi Per Rostad (viola) and Brandon Vamos (viola), have earned a stellar reputation for their play and their very interesting repertoire choices.

Recent performances include the complete Dmitri Shostakovich cycle of quartets given in both Chicago and New York as well as the entire cycle of Ludvig von Beethoven quartets in a three-day whirlwind series of concerts at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. The quartet intends to repeat the Beethoven ccle in a series of concerts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and others sponsored by the Denver Friends of Chamber Music.

Celebrated recording artists, the quartet has received the highest marks from reviewers and editors for their complete recordings of the Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn and Elliot Carter quartets.

The pieces selected for the first half of their New Orleans performance were the Shotstakovich String Quartet No. 9 in C Minor, Opus 117, and the Nikolai Miaskovsky String Quartet No. 13 in A Minor, Opus 86. Both of these selections are found on a recent Cedille Records two-CD release titled “The Soviet Experience: Strong Quartets by Dmitri Shotstakovich and his Contemporaries”  (CDR 90000 127).

The second half of the performance consisted of the Beethoven Quartet in F Major, Opus 59, No. 1.