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The Ying Quartet occupies a position of unique prominence in the classical music world, combining brilliantly communicative performances with a fearlessly imaginative view of chamber music in today's world. Now in its second decade as a quartet, the Quartet has established itself as an ensemble of the highest musical qualifications in its tours across the United States and abroad. Their performances regularly take place in many of the world's most important concert halls, from Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House. At the same time, the Quartet's belief that concert music can also be a meaningful part of everyday life has also drawn the foursome to perform in settings as diverse as the workplace, schools, juvenile prisons, and the White House. In fact, the Ying Quartet's constant quest to explore the creative possibilities of the string quartet has led it to an unusually diverse array of musical projects and interests.
The Ying Quartet's recordings reflect many of the group's wide-ranging musical interests and have generated consistent, enthusiastic acclaim. Their 2007 Telarc release of the three Tchaikovsky Quartets and the Souvenir de Florence (with James Dunham and Paul Katz) was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Chamber Music Performance category. In addition, their much-heralded collaboration with the Turtle Island Quartet, "Four + 4," explored the common ground between the classic string quartet tradition and jazz and other American vernacular styles, and won a Grammy Award in 2005. Their most recent release with the Billy Childs Chamber Jazz Ensemble, Autumn in Moving Pictures (ArtistShare) was nominated for a Grammy in 2010. In addition, the Ying Quartet’s Dim Sum (Telarc) features music by Chinese-American composers that merges the Western string quartet with the aural world of traditional Chinese music. The Quartet has also documented its noteworthy LifeMusic commissioning project in its recorded work. Released by Quartz, "The Ying Quartet play LifeMusic" was named Editor's Choice by Gramophone magazine and is the first in a continuing series. The Ying Quartet is now pleased to be in a relationship with Sono Luminus with this release of Arensky’s Quartets and Quintet and a release last year of the third record in their LifeMusic commissions.
In addition to appearing in conventional concert situations, the Ying Quartet is also known for its diverse and unusual performance projects. For several years the Quartet presented a series called "No Boundaries" at Symphony Space in New York City that sought to re-imagine the concert experience. Collaborations with actors, dancers, electronics, a host of non-classical musicians, a magician and even a Chinese noodle chef gave new and thoughtful context to a wide variety of both traditional and contemporary string quartet music. They have also worked with composer Tod Machover and the MIT Media lab in the use of Hyperscore, an innovative musical composition software. Other musical partners range from pianists Menahem Pressler and Gilbert Kalish and cellist Paul Katz to folk musician Mike Seeger, jazz pianist Billy Childs, and the Turtle Island Quartet.
The Ying Quartet's ongoing LifeMusic commissioning project, created in response to their commitment to expanding the rich string quartet repertoire, has already achieved an impressive history. Supported by the Institute for American Music, the Quartet commissions both established and emerging composers to create music that reflects contemporary American life. Augusta Read Thomas, Michael Torke, Chen Yi, Kevin Puts, Paquito D'Rivera, Paul Moravec, Lowell Liebermann, Bernard Rands, Pierre Jalbert, Sebastian Currier, and Carter Pann are only some of the renowned composers and musicians who have written for LifeMusic.
During the summers, the Ying Quartet's activity is primarily centered at music festivals. They regularly perform and teach at the Bowdoin International Music Festival and also served as ensemble-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival. Other festival appearances have been at Tanglewood, Ravinia, Caramoor, San Miguel de Allende, Kneisel Hall, Norfolk, Skaneateles, Amelia Island, Interlochen, and many others.
As quartet-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music, the Ying Quartet maintains full time faculty positions in the String and Chamber Music Departments. One cornerstone of chamber music activity at Eastman is the noted Music for All program, in which all students have the opportunity to perform in community settings beyond the concert hall. From 2001-2008, the Ying Quartet has also been the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University. The Ying Quartet first came to professional prominence in the early 1990s during their years as resident quartet of Jesup, Iowa, a farm town of 2000 people. Playing before audiences of six to six hundred in homes, schools, churches, and banks, the Quartet had its first opportunities to enable music and creative endeavor to become an integral part of community life. The Quartet considers its time in Jesup the foundation of its present musical life and goals. The residency, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, was widely chronicled in the national media. Toward the end of the residency, the quartet and several of the townspeople were invited to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress on behalf of the NEA.
Graduated from the Eastman School of Music and began a two-year residency in Jesup, Iowa, under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Top prizewinner in the Banff International String Quartet Competition.
Winner of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award.
Appointed Faculty Quartet-in-Residence at the Eastman School of Music.
Grammy nomination for Best Chamber Music Performance for appearing on “Golijov:Yiddishbuk” (EMI)
Winner of a Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album for “4+Four” (Telarc) with the Turtle Island String Quartet.
Grammy nomination for Best Chamber Music Performance for “Tchaikovsky: Three String Quartets and the Souvenir de Florence” (Telarc).
Ayano Ninomiya joins the Ying Quartet as first violin.
Grammy nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for “Autumn: In Moving Pictures Jazz-Chamber Music Vol. 2”(ArtistShare), a collaboration with Billy Childs and the Chamber Jazz Ensemble.
- Complete timeline to come…
Violin - Ayano Ninomiya
Beginning with the 2010-2011 season, violinist Ayano Ninomiya joins the Ying Quartet as first violinist and Associate Professor of Violin and of Chamber Music at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. She is a top prizewinner in the 2003 Naumburg Competition, the 2006 Tibor Varga Competition, and winner of the S&R Washington and Lili Boulanger Memorial awards, and has built a significant career of recital, concerto, music festival, and chamber music appearances. In addition, she brings her own passionate vision for imaginative programming, collaborative work, and audience engagement initiatives.
This season's Ying Quartet performances bring Ms.Ninomiya on tours across the U.S. from Tennessee to Virginia to California, and also to Beijing, China, as well as recording an Arensky album for Sono Luminus and performing at the Bowdoin Festival in Maine. Solo engagements include a performance of Bartok's Concerto no. 2 with the Civic Symphony of Boston, recitals in Tokyo, Japan, at the National Gallery of Art, and at Lincoln Center, NYC. She also makes return appearances at the Kingston, Lenape, and Moab festivals.
Ms. Ninomiya's second New York recital which took place at Merkin Concert Hall in October 2008 garnered this praise: “Her technique is equal to all challenges, secure, effortless and unobtrusive; her tone is lovely, pure, and variable in color and intensity” (New York Concert Review). Two pieces from this recital were chosen for broadcast on New York’s WQXR Young Artist Showcase. As one of five soloists for the 2009 Young Performers Career Advancement program by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, she performed at their Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall showcase.
Ms. Ninomiya’s 2004 debut recital at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall was described as “deeply communicative and engrossing” (The New York Times). Under the auspices of Astral Artists, whose National Auditions she won in 2003, she had the unique opportunity to lead the Haddonfield Symphony Chamber Orchestra in a performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, and gave her Philadelphia debut recital as well as a recital at the Washington Conservatory. She also performed on Astral’s Rising Stars series at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, with other Astral colleagues at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and gave a piano trio recital with pianist Claude Frank and cellist Clancy Newman in 2007.
As the recipient of the 2005 Beebe Fellowship, Ms.Ninomiya lived in Budapest, Hungary until 2007, where she studied at the Liszt Academy of Music and researched scores at the Bartok Archives. Ms. Ninomiya’s recording of the complete works for violin by Larry Bell, “The Book of Moonlight,” was listed as one of the Top 10 Classical Recordings of 2003 (Philadelphia’s City Paper). In 2007, with other artists from the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, she recorded Paul Moravec’s “Cool Fire” and “Chamber Symphony” for the Naxos label.
In 2007 Ms. Ninomiya created several unique lecture-recital programs for Elderhostel and in 2008 taught eight “Day of Discovery” classes in New York City, upstate New York, and outside of Boston. For these she received stellar written and point evaluations across the board. Stemming from her own experience beginning violin studies in a public school program at the age of seven, she also has a keen interest in giving community and kids programs wherever her professional concerts take her. Over the years, these opportunities have brought her from Bethlehem, New Hampshire to Columbia, Missouri, to Denton, Maryland, including many occasions in the greater Philadelphia area.
Ms. Ninomiya made her debut as soloist on Opening Night of the Boston Pops 1999 season under Keith Lockhart and was praised for her “great sweetness of tone, dazzling bow work, and intensity of expression” (Boston Herald). Subsequent performances have included those with orchestras in Europe (Budapest, Sofia, Martigny), the Boston, Harrisburg, Mobile, Dubuque, Northbrook, Longwood, Civic Symphony of Boston, Jackson (MI), and Southwest Florida symphonies, and the Highland Park Strings.
As the 2002 Japan Airlines (JAL) Classic Special New Artist, Ms. Ninomiya gave a five-city recital tour of Japan, including a debut recital at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. Her recital debut at Boston’s Jordan Hall on the BankBoston Emerging Artist Series in 1997 was described as “technically dazzling, intensely musical, questing in spirit and passionate in expression” (Boston Herald). She has been featured since then on the Rising Stars series at the Ravinia Festival, at the Gardner Museum in Boston, on the Sanibel BigArts Series in Florida, and on the Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago.
Ms. Ninomiya joined Musicians from Marlboro for their 2005 tour of France and 2004 U.S. tour. She has been invited to perform with the Young Artists from the Steans Institute of the Ravinia Festival, for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, on New York City’s WQXR, at the Metropolitan Art Museum, Bargemusic, and spent several seasons at the Marlboro, Ravinia, Caramoor, Bridgehampton, and Olympic festivals. Ms. Ninomiya was a founding member of the Amaryllis String Quartet, which won the Fischoff Competition (Junior Division), performed with Yo-Yo Ma and Pamela Frank, and performed professionally at the Boulder, Strings in the Mountains, and Rockport festivals, among others. She is also an active member of the conductorless string ensemble, ECCO.
Ms. Ninomiya graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a joint degree in Music and French in 2001, where she was also awarded the David McCord Prize and won the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra Concerto Competition. She holds a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School where she studied with Robert Mann. Her teachers and coaches include Miriam Fried, Michele Auclair, Hyo Kang, Robert Levin, Eszter Perenyi, and Andras Keller. Currently residing in New York City, she has been a volunteer tutor for at-risk high school students at the East Harlem Justice Center and a volunteer teacher assistant at the Lighthouse Music School in NYC.
Violin - Janet Ying
Janet Ying is a founding member of the Ying Quartet, whose fascinating career path began in 1992 in Jesup, a small town in northeast Iowa. Among the first groups to be awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant to live and perform in a rural area, Ms. Ying explored connections between concert music and everyday life, performing throughout the community in places like schools, workplaces, social clubs, churches and banks. In the process of doing so, she forged a vision for making music an integral part of community. At the same time, Ms. Ying was recognized for musical excellence with the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1993, and since then has performed extensively across the United States and abroad. Since the Jesup residency, she has continued her quest for creative music-making, creating a series called “No Boundaries” at Symphony Space in New York, combining string quartet music with poetry, dance, popular music, magic, and even a Chinese noodle-making demonstration, as well as collaborating with diverse musicians such as Menahem Pressler, Jon Manasse, jazz pianist Billy Childs, the Turtle Island Quartet, Mike Seeger, and Matt Flinner. Along with the Quartet, she actively commissions new works in an ongoing project called LifeMusic, asking American composers to communicate an aspect of contemporary American life, and has premiered intriguing works from Kevin Puts, Chen Yi, Sebastian Currier, Michael Torke, Bernard Rands, Paul Moravec, Paquito D’Rivera, and Augusta Read Thomas, among others. Ms. Ying can be heard on these recordings: Three Tchaikovsky Quartets and the Souvenir de Florence, its series of three LifeMusic albums featuring American commissions, 4 + Four, a Grammy award winning collaboration with the Turtle Island String Quartet, and Dim Sum, a collection of shorter works melding Eastern and Western sounds. Principal violin studies have been with Yuko Nasu, Sonja Foster, Almita and Roland Vamos, Donald Weilerstein, and William Preucil. Currently, Ms. Ying is an Associate Professor of Chamber Music at the Eastman School of Music, and in addition pursues taiji, Crossfit and an interest in gastronomy.
Viola - Phillip Ying
Phillip Ying, as violist of the Ying Quartet, has performed across the United States, Europe and Asia. He is a recipient of the Naumburg Award for Chamber Music, has won a Grammy for a collaborative recording with the Turtle Island String Quartet, and has been nominated three additional times, most recently for a collaborative album with pianist, Billy Childs. He maintains a vital interest in new music with recent and planned premieres of works by Chen Yi, Augusta Read Thomas, Kevin Puts, Ned Rorem, Jennifer Higdon, Sebastian Currier, Paquito D’Rivera, Lowell Liebermann, Paul Moravec, and Kenji Bunch and is currently engaged in a multi-‐year commissioning project with the Institute for American Music. Mr. Ying also pursues creative projects across musical styles with other artists such as Garth Fagan and Tod Machover. During the summers, he has performed at the Colorado College, Bowdoin, Aspen, Marlboro, Tanglewood, Caramoor, Norfolk, Music in the Vineyards and Skaneateles Music Festivals. He has recorded on the Sono Luminus, Telarc, Albany, Elektra, and EMI labels. Mr. Ying is an Associate Professor Chamber Music and Viola at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. From 2001-‐2008, he was named with the Ying Quartet Blodgett Ensemble in Residence at Harvard University. Additionally, he served a six year term as President of Chamber Music America, a national service organization for chamber music ensembles, presenters and artist managers, and has been published by Chamber Music magazine. He is a frequent speaker, panelist, and outside evaluator on subjects such as arts-‐in-‐education, advocacy through performance, and chamber music residencies. Mr. Ying received his education at Harvard University, the New England Conservatory, and the Eastman School of Music, and has studied principally with Martha Katz, Walter Trampler, and Roland Vamos.
Cello - David Ying
Cellist David Ying is well known to concert audiences as the cellist of the Grammy Award winning Ying Quartet. With the Quartet he has performed worldwide in celebrated music venues from Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House. The quartet is also known for its enterprising view of concert performance, which has led to visits to the White House as well as correctional facilities, and to business schools as well as hospitals. In its collaborations, the quartet has performed with chamber music greats Menachem Pressler, Gilbert Kalish, and Paul Katz, as well as explored new musical territory with folk musician Mike Seeger, the Turtle Island Quartet, and even actors, dancers, chefs and magicians. With the Quartet, David has created a wide range of recordings that have received consistent acclaim, as well as a Grammy Award and four Grammy nominations. Their recorded work ranges from traditional-‐ Tchaikovsky’s three string quartets and his Souvenir de Florence-‐ to contemporary-‐ three albums of their LifeMusic commissions. It also includes unique collaborations with the Turtle Island Quartet, pianist Billy Childs, and Phish frontman Trey Anastasio. In October 2011, the quartet released the two string quartets and piano quintet of Anton Arensky (Sono Luminus). David first pursued chamber music avidly as a teenaged student at the Eastman School of Music with his piano trio, which was awarded first prize at the Coleman Chamber Music Competition. Later he would also win the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, this time with the Ying Quartet. David is also highly regarded as an individual artist, having been awarded prizes in the Naumburg Cello Competition and in the Washington International Competition. As a solo cellist, he often performs with his wife, pianist Elinor Freer. Together they are also artistic directors of the Skaneateles Festival. Their imaginative view of music has helped to earn the festival a devoted following and national recognition, including a special ASCAP award for adventurous programming. A graduate of both the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School, David owes a debt of gratitude to his many fine teachers, who include Leonard Rose, Channing Robbins, Paul Katz, Steven Doane, Robert Sylvester, and Nell Novak. David presently serves on the cello and chamber music faculty at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY, where he and Elinor reside with their two children.