The Jupiter String Quartet (https://www.jupiterquartet.com/; https://www.facebook.com/jupiterquartet/) are Artists-in-Residence and Associate Clinical Professors at the University of Illinois. They perform frequently across campus as well as at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (also located on campus). In addition, they coach chamber music and all have large private studios of University of Illinois students. The quartet is a particularly intimate group, consisting of violinists Nelson Lee and Megan Freivogel McDonough, violist Liz Freivogel (older sister of Meg), and cellist Daniel McDonough (husband of Meg, brother-in-law of Liz). Now enjoying their 17th year together, this tight-knit ensemble is firmly established as an important voice in the world of chamber music. The New Yorker claims, “The Jupiter String Quartet, an ensemble of eloquent intensity, has matured into one of the mainstays of the American chamber-music scene.” Sample audio can be found here: https://www.jupiterquartet.com/recordings. Sample video can be found here: https://www.jupiterquartet.com/video and here: https://youtube.com/channel/UCEMahnhFuHy6Vqd8JZVu1qg or here: https://www.instagram.com/jupiter_quartet/.
The quartet has performed in some of the world’s finest halls, including New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Mexico City's Palacio de Bellas Artes, Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and Library of Congress, Austria’s Esterhazy Palace, and Seoul’s Sejong Chamber Hall. Their major music festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival and School, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Rockport Music Festival, the Banff Centre, Virginia Arts Festival, Music at Menlo, Maverick Concerts, Caramoor International Music Festival, Lanaudiere Festival, West Cork (Ireland) Chamber Music Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Madeline Island Music Festival, Yellow Barn Festival, Encore Chamber Music Festival, the inaugural Chamber Music Athens, and the Seoul Spring Festival, among others. In addition to their performing career, they have been artists-in-residence at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana since 2012.
Their chamber music honors and awards include the grand prizes in the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; the Young Concert Artists International auditions in New York City; the Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America; an Avery Fisher Career Grant; and a grant from the Fromm Foundation. From 2007-2010, they were in residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two.
The Jupiter Quartet has worked intensively with some of today’s brightest composers: they have commissioned string quartets from Kati Agócs, Syd Hodkinson, Hannah Lash, Stephen Andrew Taylor, Dan Visconti, and Michi Wiancko; a quintet with baritone voice by Mark Adamo; and a piano quintet by Pierre Jalbert. Larger projects include a family commission for mixed ages by Patrick Castillo, an octet by Dan Visconti, and an upcoming commission for chamber choir and string quartet. Upcoming highlights include a collaboration with the University of Illinois men’s choirs, pianist Casey Robards, and director Barrington Coleman, which will include a performance of Joel Thompson’s “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed”; a recital with the Imani Winds featuring Michi Wiancko’s “Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores” as well as many other contemporary works; and several performances with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, in which Jessie Montgomery’s “Banner” will be featured alongside other works.
The quartet’s latest album is an octet collaboration with relatives and friends in the Jasper String Quartet. Previous releases include several quartet-only albums, most recently “Metamorphosis”; “Alchemy” (with Australian pianist Bernadette Harvey); “Revelations” (music of the composer Su Lian Tan); “Rootsongs” (with vocalist Ollie Watts Davis), and many others. Samples and links to full recordings can be accessed here: https://www.jupiterquartet.com/recordings.
The Jupiter String Quartet believes that developing relationships with future audiences through engagement work in the community is an essential skill for all musicians. They have performed hundreds of educational concerts for all ages, as well as given numerous masterclasses and lectures to aspiring musicians across the globe. Locally, they have collaborated with the departments of Dance, Theater, Physics, Musicology, Art, Music Theory, Music History, Lyric Theatre, Vocal Studies, and the Beckman Institute, as well as with current and former students.
The quartet chose its name because Jupiter was the most prominent planet in the night sky at the time of its formation and the astrological symbol for Jupiter resembles the number four. They are also proud to list among their accomplishments in recent years the addition of seven quartet children: Pablo, Lillian, Clara, Dominic, Felix, Oliver, and Joelle. You may spot some of these miniature Jupiters in the audience or tagging along to rehearsals, along with their grandparent babysitters.
For information, visit www.jupiterquartet.com.