Named for New England novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Hawthorne String Quartet includes Boston Symphony Orchestra violinists Ronan Lefkowitz and Si-Jing Huang, violist Mark Ludwig, and cellist Sato Knudsen.
Since its inception in 1986, the Hawthorne String Quartet has performed extensively throughout Europe, South America, Japan and the United States, including major festivals such as Tanglewood, Ravinia and Aspen. The Quartet has an expansive repertoire ranging from the classics of the 18th and 19th centuries to newly commissioned contemporary works. It has distinguished itself internationally by championing the works of composers persecuted during the Nazi regime, with an emphasis on the Czech composers incarcerated in the Terezín concentration camp.
In October 1991, the Quartet performed in Terezín and Prague in ceremonies hosted by President Vaclav Havel to mark the opening of the Terezín Ghetto Museum and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first transports to Terezín. In November 2002, they performed additional concerts at the invitation of President Havel and under the sponsorship of the U.S. State Department as part of a diplomatic cultural mission to raise funds for Czech flood relief and restoration efforts at Pamatník Terezín. Maintaining a close bond with the Czech Republic, the quartet has returned repeatedly for performances, master classes at the Prague Conservatory, and recording projects.
Displaying a diverse repertoire, the Hawthorne Quartet has produced a series of recordings featuring chamber music by the American composers Arthur Foote, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Thomas Oboe Lee and David Post in addition to several motion picture and documentary soundtracks. Throughout its travels, the quartet has performed on radio and television programs worldwide and in documentaries. Recent documentaries include "Terezín: Resistance and Revival" and "Creating Harmony."
The Quartet's CD entitled Chamber Music from Theresienstadt, received international critical acclaim and won the Preis der Schallplattenkritik in 1991. Their Silenced Voices CD on Northeastern Records also premiered newly recovered music of composers persecuted during World War II.
In April 1993, the Hawthorne Quartet began recording with the London Decca Recording Company. The Quartet's first recording of the string quartets by Pavel Haas and Hans Krasa (which was included in London Decca's Entartete Musik Project) was awarded Belgium's Cecilia Grand Prix Special Du Jury. The award was presented in recognition of "an exceptional undertaking and paying homage to an interpreter who has made a mark on the history of recorded sound." Their next recording on the London Decca label was Ervin Schulhoff's Concerto for Solo String Quartet and Chamber Orchestra. The quartet gave the American premiere of this work with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and has performed it subsequently with the National Symphony, Julliard Orchestra and the Deutsch Kammerphilharmonie, with whom they gave the German premiere performances of the Concerto. The Quartet will perform the concerto with Thomas Wilkens and the Omaha Chamber Orchestra later this month
The Quartet has also collaborated with Christopher Hogwood, Ned Rorem, Andre Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell, Marta Argerich and the Philobolus Dance Company.
In addition to the commissioning and performance of new chamber works, the Quartet is committed to education programs produced by the Terezin Music Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the preservation of the history and music of composers who perished in the Holocaust. Founded by violist Mark Ludwig (a Fulbright scholar in Holocaust music), the Foundation preserves this rich musical legacy through education programs, residencies and the commissioning of works by emerging composers as a memorial to the rich creative spirit and determination of the Terezin composers. Upcoming educational programs include a residency in Omaha, Nebraska consisting of workshops, master-classes and concerts examining Holocaust music and art. For more information on the Quartet and TMF activities go to www.terezinmusic.org