The American JACK Quartet was founded in 2003 by four young musicians who studied together at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. The ensemble’s name comes from the first letter of each member’s first name: John Pickford Richards (viola), Ari Streisfeld (second violin), Christopher Otto (first violin), and Kevin McFarland (Violoncello). During their training, the players also studied with the Arditti and the Kronos Quartets and, as participants in the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY, with musicians from the Ensemble intercontemporain, who gave them important advice that would prove useful in the performance of their future repertoire. The JACK Quartet focuses in particular on contemporary music, collaborating closely with the composers whose work they perform. Along with Helmut Lachenmann, this list includes such names as György Kurtág, Matthias Pintscher, Georg Friedrich Haas, Toshio Hosokawa, Wolfgang Rihm, James Dillon, and Beat Furrer. The JACK Quartet has performed at Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and has also appeared at the Donaueschingen Festival, the Biennale in Venice, the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music, and the Ultraschall Festival in Berlin. Between 2012 and 2014 the four players are working closely with Maurizio Pollini as part of his Pollini Perspectives series: following its premiere in Lucerne, the series is also being presented in Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, and Milan. An important component of the JACK Quartet’s work is devoted to young composers and instrumentalists, which entails giving workshops at the Universities of Iowa, Wisconsin-Madison, Buffalo, Illinois, Washington, and New York; the Quartet additionally teaches at various American conservatories.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL debut in the summer of 2005 as participants in the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY, when these four musicians took part in a conversation concert with Helmut Lachenmann. Their actual LUCERNE FESTIVAL debut then followed on 16 August 2007, with works by John Zorn, György Kurtág, John Cage, and Peter Eötvös.