The Emerson String Quartet performed its final concert at the Staller Center for the Arts to a packed house on October 14, signaling the end of the quartet’s nearly 25-year-long history as Artists in Residence at Stony Brook. They were rewarded with multiple standing ovations from the sold-out crowd.
The program featured Beethoven String Quartet in Bb Major and Schubert String Quintet in C Major. Special guest and former Emerson cellist David Finckel joined the ensemble — including cellist Paul Watkins, Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer on violin, and Larry Dutton on viola — for the Schubert piece.
Following the concert, a reception for the group and honored guests was held in the Zuccaire Gallery, with remarks from Stony Brook President Maurie McInnis; Alan Inkles, director of the Staller Center for the Arts; former Provost Robert (Bob) McGrath; Gil Kalish, professor in the Department of Music; Judy Lochhead, professor and former chair of the Department of Music; and Christina Dahl, chair of the Department of Music.
McGrath, Kalish and Lochhead, along with former Stony Brook President Shirley Kenny, were instrumental in bringing the group to campus as Artists in Residence.
Following the remarks, Inkles awarded the group members with trophies in recognition of their years performing as a group in the Staller Center.
Despite a busy touring schedule over the past two decades, the group members have always made time to serve on faculty committees and to be available for music students.
Dahl described to the group a recent faculty meeting in which Setzer participated in a faculty meeting on a Sunday evening while he was on tour in Milan, where the time was 12:30 am.
“They come to faculty meetings, serve as lecturers and advisors and sit on dissertation committees,” Dahl said. “The rest of the world sits in on their concerts, but one of the most remarkable things about their long association with the department is that they never stood on ceremony, or acted as if they deserve special consideration.”
President McInnis looked toward the future with the group members as they continue to serve as faculty within the Department of Music. “Through the Emerson String Quartet Institute in the Department of Music, group members Eugene Drucker, Lawrence Dutton, Philip Setzer and Paul Watkins, along with the quartet’s ex-cellist, David Finckel, will remain at Stony Brook to coach and mentor student string quartets,” she said.
After playing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on October 20, the Quartet will finish with “The Final Farewell” at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York October 21 and 22.