JACK String Quartet

Since the era of Classical composer Joseph Haydn, the string quartet has been one of the most prominent arrangements for chamber music. On March 2 in Paine Hall, an extensive collaboration of musicians will juxtapose traditional instrumentation with new, modern pieces, played by the JACK String Quartet. The concert will premiere works composed by members of the Harvard Group for New Music, made up of 16 graduate students in Harvard’s department of Music with diverse musical specializations including composition, theory, musicology, and ethnomusicology.

To Timothy McCormack, one of the group’s members, the deep-rooted tradition of the string quartet makes the upcoming performance all the more exciting. “We all write interesting music…from [the Classical] tradition, but it’s not going to sound like a Beethoven quartet,” he says. Instead, the pieces will feature each composer’s unique approach to the music and the ensemble. Marta Gentilucci, an Italian composer and vocalist who will also have a piece premiered at the event, looks forward to the variety of talents that will be showcased. “Each of us have our own compositional world,” she says.

The JACK String Quartet, which primarily concentrates on the performance of new works, is made up of  John P. Richards, Ari Streisfeld, Christopher Otto, and Kevin McFarland.  Although some of the composers, including Gentilucci, have not had a chance to work with the JACK Quartet directly, the composers are enthusiastic about the caliber of the upcoming performance. “We are very lucky to have high-level professionals coming to play our pieces,” Gentilucci says. “We have a chance to really work in a professional situation.”

McCormack, who has worked with the Quartet before, is equally excited to hear them premiere his works. “You get a sense onstage at their performances…that they’re good friends and they became an ensemble because they wanted to play together. It changes the music.”

—Staff writer Se-Ho B. Kim can be reached at



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