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Emerson String Quartet Institute

ESQStarted in Fall, 2017, the Stony Brook Department of Music became home to the Emerson String Quartet Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University.  The function of the Institute is to provide rigorous training for excellent string quartets.  Members of the Emerson String Quaret—violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton, and cellist Paul Watkins—are joined by the quartet’s ex-cellist, David Finckel, to coach and mentor student string quartets.  Faculty members in the Department of Music offer an academic curriculum that serves the students of the Institute. 

Three or four quartets become members of the Institute, each for a period of two years.  Quartets are formed from among the student body (by audition).  Pre-formed quartets may also apply to the Institute; all members of the quartet must apply, and be accepted, as students. (See link at the bottom of the page to apply.) The curriculum includes coaching by all members of the Emerson Quartet and David Finckel.  Individual quartets receive coachings, and master classes are  held in which all of the quartets participate collaboratively and supportively.  Academic courses, in historical and analytical topics centered on the string quartet, are offered by the department’s academic faculty.  Practical training in career development—by the Emersons, the performance faculty, and invited guests—are a feature of the program.  Students  may also acquire professional management, marketing, and fund-raising skills by taking elective courses in the College of Business.  It is the goal of the Institute to provide complete training for string quartets, in all aspects of performance as well as in all other areas pertinent to successful functioning as a string quartet.  There is no separate degree for students of the Institute, who will fulfill all of the requirements for the degree program—M.M. or D.M.A. in performance—in which they are matriculated. 

The creation of the Institute coincided with, and celebrates, the 40 th anniversary of the Emerson String Quartet.  In formalizing instruction in the Institute, the Emerson String Quartet will continue their work of several decades.  They have coached many string quartets, including the Avalon, Borealis, Calder, Escher, Pacific, St. Lawrence, and Ying quartets.  These groups have enjoyed professional success in the world of chamber music.  Most recently, they mentored the Calidore String Quartet at Stony Brook, which won, while in residence at Stony Brook,  the 2016 inaugural $100,000 “M-Prize,” the world’s largest chamber music award, sponsored by the University of Michigan.  The Department of Music fully expects that the Institute will be among the world-wide leaders in the rigorous training of professional string quartet.

Students applying individually need only make application to their respective program (B.A., M.A., or M.M.) and indicate that they seek entry into the Institute.  Students applying as part of an ensemble will indicate that on the application and will be contacted and instructed to send a DVD or upload a video of the ensemble to the Department of Music. 

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