상하이 콘서바토리 출신으로 현재 미국 음악계에서 주목을 받으며 활동하고 있는 네 명의 현악 연주자 그룹 상하이 콰르텟은 1983년에 창단된 이후 30년의 역사가 계속되는 동안, 이제는 현존하는 최고의 콰르텟 가운데 하나로 평가 받고 있다. 열정적인 음악성, 인상 깊은 테크닉 그리고 다문화적인 혁신으로 잘 알려져 있는 그들은 서양의 전통에 동양의 섬세함이 녹아 든 우아한 음악스타일을 자랑하며 고전에서 동시대 음악까지 모든 장르를 포괄하는 다양한 레퍼토리를 자랑한다.
'스트라드' 지가 근래에 보기 드문 세련미와 현대적인 음악 감각을 갖춘 4인조로 격찬했던 상하이 콰르텟은 1983년 포츠머스 국제 현악 콩쿠르(지금의 런던 국제 콩쿠르) 2위 입상, 1987년 시카고 디스커버리 콩쿠르 우승으로 세계 음악계의 주목을 받기 시작하여 현재 언론과 대중으로부터 현존하는 최고의 콰르텟 가운데 하나로 평가 받고 있으며, 유명 레이블에서 30여장이 넘는 음반을 발표하고 있다. 베토벤 페스티벌, 파블로 카잘스 페스티벌, 탱글우드 음악제, 모스틀리 모차르트 페스티벌 등 실내악에 비중을 두는 유명 국제 음악제 무대에 정규 초청단체로 해마다 참가하면서 음악세계의 깊이를 더해가고 있다.
상하이 콰르텟은 현재 뉴저지의 몽클레어 주립 대학교의 존 J, 칼리 음악 스쿨의 교수로 재직 중에 있으며, 상하이 심포니 오케스트라의 전속 앙상블로 활동하고 있다. 또한 상하이 콘서바토리와 베이징 센트럴 콘서바토리에서 객원교수로 후학을 양성하고 있다.
Formed at the Shanghai Conservatory in 1983, the Quartet has worked with the world’s most distinguished artists and regularly tours the major music centers of Europe, North America and Asia. Recent festival performances range 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 at Carnegie Hall. Among innumerable collaborations with noted artists, they have performed with the Tokyo, Juilliard and Guarneri Quartets, cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell, pianists Menahem Pressler, Yuja Wang, Peter Serkin and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, pipa virtuosa Wu Man and the male vocal ensemble Chanticleer. The Shanghai Quartet has been regular performers at many of North America’s leading chamber music festivals, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamberfest Ottawa and Maverick Concerts where they recently made their 24th consecutive annual appearance.
The Quartet has a long history of championing new music and juxtaposing traditions of Eastern and Western music. The Quartet’s 30th Anniversary season brought five new commissions; Bullycide, for piano, string quartet and bass by David Del Tredici; Fantasie, a piano quintet by Australian composer Carl Vine; a concerto for string quartet and symphony orchestra by Jeajoon Ryu; Verge Quartet by Lei Liang and Scherzo by Robert Aldridge, commissioned by Yu Long and the Beijing Music Festival. Their 25th anniversary season featured Penderecki’s String Quartet No. 3: Leaves From an Unwritten Diary, Chen Yi’s From the Path of Beauty, String Quartet No. 2 by Vivian Fung and jazz pianist Dick Hyman’s String Quartet. The Penderecki premiered at a special 75th birthday concert in Poland honoring the composer ,followed by U.S. premieres at Peak Performances, Montclair State University and the Modlin Center, University of Richmond and numerous performances worldwide. It was featured at the the composer’s 80th Birthday celebration in November 2013. Chen Yi’s From the Path of Beauty, co-commissioned with Chanticleer, premiered in San Francisco, followed by performances at Tanglewood and Ravinia, Beijing and Shanghai. Other important commissions and premieres include works by Bright Sheng, Lowell Lieberman, Sebastian Currier, Marc Neikrug and Zhou Long. Bright Sheng’s Dance Capriccio had its premiere in spring 2012 with pianist Peter Serkin. Dan Welcher’s Museon Polemos for double quartet premiered in September 2012 with the Miro Quartet at the University of Texas at Austin. The tradition will continue in 2014-15 with Du Yun’s Tattooed in Snow and in 2015-16 with the premiere of a quintet for string quartet and pipa by Zhao Ji-Ping, China’s most renowned film composer (Raise the Red Lantern, Farewell, My Concubine…) with Wu Man.
The Shanghai Quartet has an extensive discography of more than 30 recordings, ranging 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: a collection of Chinese folk songs arranged by Yi-Wen Jiang reflecting on his childhood memories of the Cultural Revolution in China. In 2009 Camerata released the Quartet’s recordings of the complete Beethoven String Quartets, a seven-disc project.
A diverse and interesting array of media projects include 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 film Music of the Heart, starring Meryl Streep.
The Shanghai Quartet currently serves as Quartet-in-Residence at the John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University, New Jersey, Ensemble-in-Residence with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and visiting guest professors of the Shanghai Conservatory and the Central Conservatory in Beijing. They are proudly sponsored by Thomastik-Infeld Strings.