The Dover Quartet Joins the Curtis Institute of Music Faculty as First Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence
Innovative residency combines teaching, touring, and technology
PHILADELPHIA—August 5, 2020—The Curtis Institute of Music announces the launch of a new faculty residency, the Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence program, which will be held by the internationally renowned Dover Quartet.
The Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence program, which takes effect August 31, redesigns the faculty residence model for the 21st century. This innovative residency integrates teaching at Curtis, a robust international performance career, and a cutting-edge digital presence. These three main pillars—teaching, touring, and technology—will all be fostered at Curtis in a holistic and cohesive way, providing the Dover Quartet with the resources to experiment with new technologies, cultivate the next generation of chamber ensembles, and engage audiences through in-person and performance-related digital initiatives.
“Thanks to the generosity of Penelope Watkins, the Dover Quartet and Curtis have the tremendous opportunity to partner together to completely reimagine the career path possibilities of a revolutionary, modern ensemble,” declared Roberto Díaz, president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music. “The Dover Quartet will be free to fully explore where their artistry takes them, while also shaping the future of classical music performers and audiences, from what will always be their home: Curtis in Philadelphia. Just like the best of ensembles, this Curtis and Dover Quartet partnership can do something far more creative and impactful together than we could ever have dreamed of alone.”
“It is such a privilege for me to be able to welcome the Dover Quartet to the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music,” said Ms. Watkins, a longtime member of the Curtis board of trustees. “For the whole music community—faculty, performers, audiences, trustees, students and beyond—this appointment has the potential to change the way we think about classical music and musicians’ careers.”
“It is, quite literally, a dream come true for us to join forces with Curtis,” noted the members of the Dover Quartet. “The inspiration we felt during our formative years here can only be described as magical. The thought of once again being a part of that fabric, and sharing that inspiration with the next generation, fills us with the deepest gratitude and joy. We are immeasurably grateful to Ms. Watkins for making this new and exciting career model possible—and through this partnership, we are determined to share our love of music in new and wonderful ways.”
The engagement of the Dover Quartet as the first Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence continues Curtis’s longstanding tradition of maintaining an unparalleled faculty of the world’s top performers and teachers, and its legacy of close associations with leading American string quartets. With this residency, the Dover Quartet joins the ranks of the legendary Curtis String Quartet and the celebrated Guarneri Quartet, among others who have served at Curtis in the past.
“From the first time I heard the Dover Quartet I have been struck by their commitment to the pursuit of beauty and truth,” stated Jeremy Geffen, now executive and artistic director of Cal Performances and an early champion of the quartet in his previous post as senior director and artistic advisor at Carnegie Hall. “Their unity of intent and their curiosity distinguish them in a crowded field, as does the breadth of their repertoire interests. Though the group is committed to the live performance experience, their willingness to experiment—successfully—with other performance formats, and their embrace of technology and spreading their love of music to as broad an audience as possible, has made them the model 21st-century string quartet. None of this would matter at all if the group didn’t play with the sort of edge-of-their-seat excitement and virtuosity that inspires audiences and converts every listener to a member of their fan club.”
This appointment further strengthens the multiple and deep ties between Curtis and the highly acclaimed ensemble. The Dover Quartet was formed at Curtis in 2008, and the members are all alumni of the school: Bryan A. Lee (Violin ’11), Joel Link (Violin ’11), Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt (Viola ’10, ’11), and Camden Shaw (Cello ’10, ’11). In 2013, the Dover Quartet became the inaugural members of Curtis’s Nina von Maltzahn String Quartet Program, a fellowship program for extraordinary young string ensembles. In addition, the quartet’s name pays tribute to Dover Beach, a work for baritone and string quartet composed by Curtis alumnus Samuel Barber (Composition ’34) in 1931. As former Curtis students and current internationally renowned artists, the Dover Quartet returns to Curtis uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the artistry and careers of nascent chamber ensembles.
“I first heard the Dover Quartet in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood in a deeply moving performance of late Beethoven,” stated distinguished pianist Emanuel Ax. “Since then, I have had the great pleasure of working with them on a number of occasions. It is a joy to see these remarkable musicians, so full of individual brilliance and ideas, devote their talent to a common goal. They obviously love what they do, and they transmit that love to the performers they work with, and to audiences young and old. It will be so exciting to watch the inspiration that they will bring to the Curtis community.”
As members of the chamber music faculty, the Dover Quartet will coach and mentor emerging string quartets in the Nina von Maltzahn String Quartet Program. Additionally, the Dover Quartet will foster the formation of new string quartets among the student body and help develop Curtis string quartets into the leading ensembles of the future. The Dover Quartet will also coach other student chamber ensembles at Curtis, providing all students with access to the quartet’s collective experience and knowledge as a leading professional chamber ensemble.
The Dover Quartet’s digital technology explorations are in direct alignment with Curtis’s broadening and deepening commitment to digital initiatives. At Curtis, the Dover Quartet will serve as lead content creators, leveraging the school’s world class audio-visual capabilities to experiment with emerging technologies and to provide audiences and young musicians around the world with access to excellence in performance and instruction.
In balance with these activities at Curtis, the Dover Quartet will maintain a robust international performance career, continuing to appear regularly on leading international presenting series and helping to build audiences for chamber music worldwide.
“With the new Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence program, the Curtis Institute of Music embarks on a visionary project that draws on the school’s vaunted past and present while exploring the breathtaking possibilities of music’s future,” proclaimed Arnold Steinhardt, a member of the Curtis violin faculty and the first violinist of the renowned Guarneri Quartet. “The Dover Quartet will contribute their vast experience in chamber music to the benefit of Curtis’s highly gifted students, assume the role of content creators in the school’s broadening commitment to digital initiatives, and continue to tour the world as one of this era’s greatest string quartets. In this courageous undertaking, Curtis embraces the future as an essential part of the present—something Curtis students will find indispensable upon graduation as they face a forever changing musical environment.”
The Dover Quartet is the subject of a new documentary by Bruce Broder entitled Strings Attached, which premiered this summer. More information about the film is available at StringsAttachedMovie.com.
The Dover Quartet catapulted to international stardom in 2013, following a stunning sweep of all prizes at the Banff Competition. Since then the quartet has become one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world, and has served as quartet in residence of the Kennedy Center, Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, Chamber Music Northwest, Artosphere, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, and the Peoples’ Symphony in New York. Among the group’s honors are the Avery Fisher Career Grant and Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award. Equally comfortable with repertoire from a range of eras, the quartet has premiered works by some of the world’s foremost living composers, including Caroline Shaw and Mason Bates.
The quartet’s recent collaborators include Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnaton, Ray Chen, the Escher Quartet, Edgar Meyer, Anthony McGill, and Roomful of Teeth. The ensemble is recording the complete Beethoven string quartet cycle for Cedille Records, which has released two previous Dover Quartet recordings. The Dover Quartet was formed in 2008 at the Curtis Institute of Music.
The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians to engage a local and global community through the highest level of artistry. For nearly a century Curtis has provided each member of its small student body with an unparalleled education alongside musical peers, distinguished by a “learn by doing” philosophy and personalized attention from a faculty that includes a high proportion of actively performing musicians. To ensure that admissions are based solely on artistic promise, Curtis makes an investment in each admitted student so that no tuition is charged for their studies. Curtis students hone their craft through more than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music offerings each year in Philadelphia and around the world.