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  • Strings

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      Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet

      The Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet at Mannes School of Music program provides a highly qualified pre-professional or professional string quartet with an immersive two-year residency at Mannes School of Music and the invaluable experience of being mentored by the Mannes string quartet-in-residence, JACK Quartet. 

      The members of the Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet are admitted to the Professional Studies Diploma (PDPL) program at Mannes School of Music, a two-year program consisting of major lessons, performance opportunities, and electives. In addition to full tuition scholarship, each member of the quartet receives an annual stipend of $7,500, along with an additional travel stipend.

      The Graduate String Quartet receives unique performance opportunities and provides service to The New School through a variety of performances and engagements. This may include appearances at the Mannes Sounds Festival; workshops and readings of new works by Composition faculty and students; teaching and master class opportunities at Mannes Prep; appearances with The Mannes Orchestra, Mannes American Composers Ensemble, and Mannes Opera; performances at special events such as the Parsons Gala; and more. 

      The Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet was launched in 2020 and is made possible through the generous support of the Cuker and Stern Scholarship Fund, honoring the legacy of Harold B. and Ruth (Cuker) Stern.

      Applications for the Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet Professional Studies Diploma program are available every other year. The next application cycle will begin in fall 2021 for entry in fall 2022.

      Ensembles interested in applying should contact Associate Dean for Academic Affairs William Gustafson at

      About the JACK Quartet

      Hailed by The New York Times as “our leading new-music foursome”, the JACK Quartet is one of the most acclaimed, renowned, and respected groups performing today. JACK has maintained an unwavering commitment to their mission of performing and commissioning new works, giving voice to underheard composers, and cultivating an ever-greater sense of openness toward contemporary classical music. The quartet was selected as Musical America’s 2018 Ensemble of the Year, named to WQXR’s 19 for 19 Artists to Watch, and awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Recent engagements during the 2020-2021 season included performances at the Miller Theatre, National Sawdust, Library of Congress, and Walker Arts Center; a project with Eliott Reed at MoMA PS1 entitled This Longing Vessel; and Beautiful Trouble, a digital billboard truck performance with Natacha Diels.

      Through intimate relationships with today’s most creative voices, JACK embraces close collaboration with the composers whose music they perform, leading to a radical embodiment of the technical, musical, and emotional aspects of their work. The quartet has worked with artists such as Julia Wolfe, George Lewis, Chaya Czernowin, Helmut Lachenmann, Caroline Shaw, and Simon Steen-Andersen, with upcoming and recent premieres including works by Tyshawn Sorey, Sabrina Schroeder, John Luther Adams, Clara Iannotta, Philip Glass, Catherine Lamb, Lester St. Louis, and John Zorn. JACK’s all-access initiative, JACK Studio, commissions a selection of artists each year, who will receive money, workshop time, mentorship, and resources to develop new work to be performed and recorded by the quartet.

      JACK has been covered by all major news outlets. The Boston Globe called the quartet "superheroes of the new music world," the Washington Post heralded the ensemble as "the go-to quartet for contemporary music, tying impeccable musicianship to intellectual ferocity and a take-no-prisoners sense of commitment," and NPR stated that “no one today has the command of [contemporary] music like the young JACK quartet.”

      JACK has performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall (United States), Lincoln Center (United States), Berlin Philharmonie (Germany), Wigmore Hall (United Kingdom), Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ (Netherlands), The Louvre (France), Kölner Philharmonie (Germany), the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), Suntory Hall (Japan), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Festival Internacional Cervantino (Mexico), and Teatro Colón (Argentina). Additional awards include Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award, New Music USA's Trailblazer Award, and the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.

      According to Musical America, “many of their recordings are must-haves, for anyone interested in new music.” Among the quartet's dozens of releases, the Cold Blue Music album of John Luther Adams’ Everything That Rises was praised as “a wise and eloquent performance” by the San Francisco Chronicle; the concept album Imaginist, a collaboration with the Le Boeuf Brothers, was nominated for a GRAMMY Award in 2018; and Xenakis: String Quartets was named one of TimeOut New York’s Top Recordings of the Year. Other albums include music by Helmut Lachenmann, Du Yun, Amy Williams, Elliott Sharp, Hannah Lash, and Horatiu Radulescu.

      Committed to education, JACK is the quartet-in-residence at Mannes School of Music, which hosts the JACK Frontiers Festival, a multifaceted festival of contemporary music for string quartet. They also teach each summer at New Music on the Point, a contemporary chamber music festival in Vermont for young performers and composers, and at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. JACK has long-standing relationships with the University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program, in which they teach and collaborate with students each fall and spring, as well as with the Lucerne Festival Academy, of which the four members are all alumni. Additionally, the quartet collaborates with young composers at schools including Columbia University, Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, and Stanford University.

      Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell, JACK operates as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, commissioning, and appreciation of new string quartet music.

      About the Bergamot Quartet (2020-2022 Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet)

      The Bergamot Quartet is fueled by a passion for exploring and advocating for the music of living composers. Founded in Baltimore in 2016, Bergamot Quartet is based in New York City and is currently the Graduate String Quartet in Residence at the Mannes School of Music. Although most of our 2020-2021 season has been impacted by COVID-19, we strongly believe in the creation of art and amplification of voices during this cultural watershed moment more than ever. We are thankful for the opportunities to continue collaborating amongst ourselves, and with other artists, educators, and our communities, and have been excited to focus our energies on education, commissioning projects and recordings. Some of our current season’s engagements include being presented by the Boulanger Initiative, An Die Musik LIVE, and the Mannes Sounds Festival, being the virtual ensemble-in-residence for the Jr. Bach program at the Peabody Institute and for MATA Jr. 2020, and artists-in-residence at Arts-on-Main in Gloucester, Virginia. Other projects include commissioning  two new works in collaboration with the Towson University New Music Ensemble, collaborating with CNSNC collective on their upcoming album Hearing Stars in conjunction with the Space Telescope Science Institute, and co-commissioning  Darian Thomas with Sō Percussion as part of their Flexible Commissions project. 

      Bergamot’s previous engagements include regular features on Baltimore’s Evolution Contemporary Music Series, playing George Crumb’s Black Angels everywhere from a living room in South Baltimore to the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, and performances on So Percussion’s Brooklyn Bound series, Peabody Library’s Music in the Stacks series, and Boulanger Initiative’s annual WoCo festival. They have completed programs at the Banff Center for the Arts, Quatuor Diotima’s Academy in France, and the Next Festival of Emerging Artists, and all studied at the Peabody Conservatory.

      In expanding the limits of western classical music and the string quartet, Bergamot values partnership and collaboration as a vital element of their creative work. Previous collaborations include performances with flutist Claire Chase, and with MICA curatorial student Hannah Davis on a visual and sonic installation, TRIADS: Arrangements in Sight and Sound. Bergamot’s commissioning projects have been supported by New Music USA, including a new work by Ledah Finck in collaboration with percussionist Terry Sweeney, the Towson University New Music Ensemble, and more recently the Barlow Endowment in collaboration with Annika Socolofsky. Through their commitment to work with students and engaging with various communities, Bergamot has completed residencies in El Paso, Texas, with the El Paso Pro Musica and lectures at the University of Baltimore, Towson University, and the Peabody Institute. 

      The Bergamot Quartet is Ledah Finck and Sarah Thomas, violins; Amy Tan, viola; and Irène Han, cello.

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