Princeton Sound Kitchen

For the past two seasons, the Aizuri Quartet has been featured on the Princeton Sound Kitchen series, a forum serving graduate student composers and faculty of the renowned composition program at Princeton University. During the 2018-19 season, the Quartet workshopped and premiered quartets by composers Pascal Le Boeuf, Donnacha Dennehy, Matthew McBane, Anna Meadors, Tom Morrison, and Connor Elias Way. The evening also featured the premiere of scenes from Donnacha Dennehy’s Custom of the Coast. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 collaboration between the Aizuri Quartet and Princeton Sound Kitchen pivoted to a new format which was an adventure for both the Aizuris and the composers. After an initial in-person meeting with the composers in January 2020, the Aizuris continued to workshop the composers’ pieces through Zoom and the sharing of recordings online. The project culminated in a recording session of the eight quartets at Princeton University in November 2020, filmed by Four/Ten Media, with the videos to be released on YouTube. These virtual performances, premiering during PSK Listening Hangs in February 2021, include works by Gulli Björnsson, Dai Wei, Nick DiBerardino, Liam Elliot, Cleek Schrey, Jason Treuting, and performances of quartets by Donnacha Dennehy and Annika Socolofsky.

Seven Limbs with Nels Cline and Douglas Cuomo

The Aizuri Quartet is collaborating with Wilco's Nels Cline and composer Douglas Cuomo on a seven-movement work for string quartet and electric guitar. Premiering in Feb 2021 with several live-streamed concerts, the piece is inspired by the Seven Limbs, a fundamental Tibetan Buddhist practice of purification. 

Visit the Blue Ocean Arts website to learn more about this project.

Maeve Gilchrist -- The Harpweaver

In 2020 the Aizuri Quartet joined harpist Maeve Gilchrist on her self-composed album, The Harpweaver, which also featured guitarist Kyle Sanna, and released in October 2020. Centered around Edna St Vincent Millay’s poem The Ballad of the Harpweaver from her 1923 Pulitzer Award-winning collection of poetry, Gilchrist’s record hones in on the idea of artistic nostalgia. Gilchrist writes, “My first impression of this poem … was not of a tale of bleak circumstance but of the power of maternal love and the symbiotic relationship between instrument and player … I always loved hearing old-timers in New York referring to the 'old' and the 'new' worlds. It seems related somehow to this project which deals in the nostalgia which I feel is inherent in traditional Irish and Scottish music and reflects my gratitude to my harp. It calls to mind old music-hall melodies, memories that won't dissipate, the spell-binding recitation of a beautiful woman … In essence, this tangle of words and notes is my sonic postcard home, as I stand, like so many migrant musicians before me, on the bank of the Hudson and look East.” 

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Aizuri Quartet was the 2017-2018 String Quartet-in-Residence of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Throughout the season, the Quartet presented five specially-curated programs exploring a diverse range of themes, repertoire and collaborations. In “Music and Mayhem” on October 21, 2017, the Aizuri Quartet performed works composed during and in response to periods of intense political upheaval, including Sofia Gubaidulina’s String Quartet No. 4, Steve Reich’s Different Trains, and Beethoven’s Op. 74 “Harp” Quartet. On December 1, 2017, the Aizuri Quartet presented “Music and Isolation,” exploring works created during unique periods of intense isolation by Haydn, Beethoven, Hildegard von Bingen, Carlo Gesualdo and Conlon Nancarrow. In “Japan Across the World” on February 22, 2018, the Aizuri Quartet performed stunning recent works by contemporary composers of Japanese heritage – Akira Nishimura, Paul Wiancko and shakuhachi virtuoso Kojiro Umezaki – who developed their distinctive voices in different parts of the world. On March 31, 2018, the Aizuri Quartet performed Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross at The Cloisters in a special collaboration with the brilliant poet Denice Frohman. And finally on June 1, 2018, in collaboration with the renowned Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh, the Aizuri Quartet presented “Music and Migration,” a deep exploration of the theme of immigration that included music by Lembit Beecher, Komitas Vartabed, and world premieres by Azmeh, Pauchi Sasaki, Michi Wiancko, Wang Lu and Can Bilir.


Sophia’s Forest

In September 2017, the Aizuri Quartet took part in the world premiere of Sophia’s Forest, a 65-minute chamber opera by composer Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch, at the Black Box Theatre of Drexel University’s URBN Center Annex in Philadelphia. Developed through a generous grant from the The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, this project explores the way that technology can form a central and expressive role in operatic storytelling. The Quartet was also involved with the development of the opera, which focused on the interior world of 9-year-old Sophia, a recent immigrant to the United States, who uses her imagination to deal with the trauma of her experiences. Evoking Sophia’s inner thoughts and memories are nine sound-producing sculptures that form an central part of the opera’s set. These sound sculptures, built at the Drexel University ExCITe Center in collaboration with a team of architects from the University of Pennsylvania, act both as musical instruments and characters in the drama. Design and construction of the sculptures was led by Youngmoo Kim, Director of Drexel University’s ExCITe Center, in addition to architect Simon Kim and engineer Mark Yim from the University of Pennsylvania. Conducted by Nicole Paiement and directed by Brian Staufenbiel, these performances featured soprano Kiera Duffy, Maggie Finnegan, and the Aizuri Quartet.

For more information, visit here


Debut Album “Blueprinting” with New Amsterdam

The Aizuri Quartet released its GRAMMY nominated debut album “Blueprinting” in 2018 with the Brooklyn-based label New Amsterdam Records! The album featured stunning new works written for the Quartet by some of today’s most talented and exciting composers: Caroline ShawLembit BeecherPaul WianckoGabriella Smith and Yevgeniy Sharlat.


Commissions and Premieres

The Aizuri Quartet is proud to have commissioned and premiered works by Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw (Blueprint), Paul Wiancko (LIFT), Yevgeniy Sharlat (RIPEFG), Lembit Beecher (Sophia’s Forest), Gabriella Smith (Carrot Revolution), Michi Wiancko (Murasaki’s Moon & Lullaby for the Transient), Kinan Azmeh (The Fence, the Rooftop and the Distant Sea), Can Bilir (Irresolvable Fragments), Wang Lu (Between Air), Pauchi Sasaki (Diente de León), Ilari Kaila (Jouhet), Evan Premo (Deeply Known), Rene Orth (Stripped), Alyssa Weinberg (Parallels), Andrew Lipke (My Love), Peter Askim (String Quartet 2016), Rodney Waschka (String Quartet No. 4) and Steven Dankner (String Quartet No. 19).


Coursera: The World of the String Quartet

Released on February 5, 2015, The World of the String Quartet is an online course exploring the rich history and repertoire of the string quartet. The course is hosted by Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the legendary Guarneri Quartet, and interpretive analysis instructor Mia Chung. Filmed at the Curtis Institute of Music, these seven hour-long educational programs feature the Aizuri Quartet performing and discussing excerpts of great string quartets from across the historical spectrum, including Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 130, Mendelssohn’s String Quartet Op. 80, Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, the Ravel and Debussy String Quartets, Bartok’s Fifth and Sixth String Quartets, Ives’ String Quartet Nr. 1, and Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet with soprano Rachel Sterrenberg. It was an honor for the Aizuri Quartet to delve into these remarkable pieces with Arnold Steinhardt, who shares his amazing stories and unparalleled wisdom throughout the course. The World of the String Quartet is free and has reached thousands of students from over a hundred countries. To learn more or sign up, visit:


Presented by LiveConnections at World Café Live in Philadelphia, the Aizuri Quartet collaborated with award-winning poet Denice Frohman and composer Andrew Lipke in an eclectic and genre-defying program that included spoken word, rock, string quartets by Debussy and Lembit Beecher, and the premiere performances of two commissioned works: Anniversary(words by Denice Frohman and music by Andrew Lipke), and Andrew Lipke’s large-scale song cycle/string quartet My Love. The Aizuri Quartet returns to LiveConnections in June 2018 for a new and exciting collaboration with renowned Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh.

Listen to an excerpt of “My Love” here. 


Barnes Foundation

In 2015 the Aizuri Quartet was a resident ensemble at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, presenting new commissions alongside works from the standard quartet literature in connection with the museum’s various special exhibitions. Three works were commissioned for the Aizuri Quartet by composers Alyssa WeinbergGabriella Smith and Rene Orth. Alyssa Weinberg’s “Parallels” was presented as a musical companion to the Barnes Foundation’s retrospective of the 20th Century American modernist William Glackens, and received its premiere on February 1st, 2015. Gabriella Smith’s “Carrot Revolution” was premiered at the Barnes on May 11th, 2015, in conjunction with the special exhibition “The Order of Things.” This exhibition featured three large-scale installations by renowned artists Mark Dion, Judy Pfaff, and Fred Wilson. On October 28th, 2015, Rene Orth’s string quartet “Stripped” received its premiere performance, alongside Alyssa Weinberg and Gabriella Smith’s works. This concert complemented the launch of two Fall 2015 exhibitions: “Strength and Splendor: Wrought Iron from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen” and “Ellen Harvey: Metal Painting.”


In C at the Kimmel Center’s Innovation Studio

The Aizuri Quartet curated two critically-acclaimed performances of Terry Riley’s In C on December 11, 2014. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Terry Riley’s groundbreaking minimalist composition, the Kimmel Center’s SEI Innovation Studio was transformed into a social, lounge-like space that offered musicians and audience members a completely immersive experience of the piece. Featuring “in-the-round” performances by the Aizuri Quartet, members of eighth blackbird, and the Curtis Institute of Music’s 20/21 Ensemble, audiences were treated to a multimedia soundscape hearkening to 1964.

Check out a couple of lovely accounts of the evening here:

Broad Street Review:

Philadelphia Inquirer:–lang-singers-deconstructed-music