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 Eastern music with Western repertoire, traversing musical genres from folk music to great masterpieces to cutting-edge contemporary works.
Formed in 1983, the quartet regularly tours the major music centers of Europe, North America, and Asia, from the International Music Festivals of Seoul and Beijing to the Festival Pablo Casals in France, and the Beethoven Festival in Poland. The quartet has appeared at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. The quartet members have collaborated 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, and pipa virtuoso Wu Man. They have been regular performers at North America’s leading chamber music festivals, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Maverick Concerts.
The quartet has a history of championing new music. Its 30th anniversary season brought new works from David Del Tredici, Carl Vine, Jeajoon Ryu, Lei Liang, and Robert Aldridge. The 25th anniversary season featured Penderecki’s String Quartet No. 3: Leaves From an Unwritten Diary and Chen Yi’s From the Path of Beauty, commissioned with Chanticleer. The Penderecki premiered at the composer’s 75th birthday concert in Poland and was featured again at his 80th birthday celebration in 2013. From the Path of Beauty premiered in San Francisco, with performances at Tanglewood and Ravinia, and in Beijing and Shanghai. Other recent premieres include works by Bright Sheng, Zhou Long, Du Yun, Zhao Lin, and William Bolcom. The tradition continues with forthcoming works by Wang Lei and Tan Dun composed for its 35th anniversary in 2018-19.
The Shanghai Quartet has an extensive discography of more than 30 recordings including Chinasong: a collection of Chinese folk songs arranged by Yi-Wen Jiang. The complete Beethoven string quartets can be heard on the Camerata label, released in 2009. Media projects range from an on-screen appearance in Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda to PBS’s Great Performances. Weigang Li appeared in the documentary From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China, and the family of Nicholas Tzavaras was the subject of the film Music of the Heart. The quartet is the subject of a documentary film, Behind the Strings, currently in production.
The Shanghai Quartet is grateful for a loan of four exceptional instruments from John & Arthur Beare, London, to honor the quartet’s 35th anniversary. The Shanghai Quartet is quartet-in-residence at Montclair State University, ensemble-in-residence with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and visiting guest professors of the Shanghai Conservatory and the Central Conservatory in Beijing.