The Lark Quartet

About The Lark Quartet

New York's Lark Quartet vastly expanded the American string quartet repertoire over its 34 years of existence. The group commissioned and performed new music from some of the most distinguished American composers, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning String Quartet No. 2 ("Musica instrumentalis") of Aaron Jay Kernis.
The Lark Quartet was founded in 1985 by cellist Laura Sewell, who brought on board violinists Kay Stern and Robin Mayforth, and violist Anna Kruger. Sewell applied for and won a Fresh Start competition held by Self magazine, which bankrolled the quartet's New York debut. The quartet went through changes of personnel over the years, and at its dissolution in 2019 consisted of violinists Deborah Buck and Basia Danilow, violist Kathryn Lockwood, and cellist Caroline Stinson. The quartet's philosophy remained consistent, however, entailing a strong emphasis on new music by top American composers. These included, in addition to Kernis, William Bolcom (who composed the song cycle Billy in the Darbies for the Lark Quartet and baritone Stephen Salters), Jennifer Higdon (the piano quintet Scenes from a Poet's Dream), and Peter Schickele (the String Quartet No. 2 "In Memoriam").
The Lark Quartet performed in top chamber music venues including Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress in Washington, and Wigmore Hall in London. Their presence at international festivals likewise extended across the Atlantic, from Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart and suburban Washington's Wolftrap to the Beethoven Festival in Moscow. The Lark Quartet served as quartet-in-residence at the University of Massachusetts from 2004 to 2008. They were noted for their "Lark About Town" outreach initiatives, which involved free family concerts and house concerts around the New York area.
The quartet made various recordings, mostly for the Arabesque and Bridge labels, performing not only new music (the 1998 album On a Lark was devoted to music by Schickele) but also major works from the 20th century repertory, including a pair of albums devoted to the music of Amy Beach. Before dissolving, the Lark Quartet released A Farewell Celebration in 2019, featuring music by John Harbison, Anna Weesner, and Andrew Waggoner. ~ James Manheim

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