• Strings

    • Culker Hero

      Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet

      The Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet at Mannes School of Music program provides a highly qualified pre-professional or professional string quartet with an immersive two-year residency at Mannes School of Music and the invaluable experience of being mentored by the Mannes string quartet-in-residence, JACK Quartet. 

      The members of the Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet are admitted to the Professional Studies Diploma (PDPL) program at Mannes School of Music, a two-year program consisting of major lessons, performance opportunities, and electives. In addition to full tuition scholarship, each member of the quartet receives an annual stipend of $7,500, along with an additional travel stipend.

      The Graduate String Quartet receives unique performance opportunities and provides service to The New School through a variety of performances and engagements. This may include appearances at the Mannes Sounds Festival; workshops and readings of new works by Composition faculty and students; teaching and master class opportunities at Mannes Prep; appearances with The Mannes Orchestra, Mannes American Composers Ensemble, and Mannes Opera; performances at special events such as the Parsons Gala; and more. 

      The Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet was launched in 2020 and is made possible through the generous support of the Cuker and Stern Scholarship Fund, honoring the legacy of Harold B. and Ruth (Cuker) Stern.

      Applications for the Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet Professional Studies Diploma program are available every other year. The next application cycle will begin in fall 2021 for entry in fall 2022.

      Ensembles interested in applying should contact Associate Dean for Academic Affairs William Gustafson at [email protected]

      About the JACK Quartet

      Hailed by the New York Times as “our leading new-music foursome,” the JACK Quartet is one of the most acclaimed and respected groups performing today. JACK members have maintained an unwavering commitment to their mission of performing and commissioning new works, giving voice to underrepresented composers, and cultivating an ever greater sense of openness toward contemporary classical music. The quartet was selected as Musical America’s 2018 Ensemble of the Year, named to WQXR’s 19 for 19 Artists to Watch, and awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Engagements during the 2020–2021 season included performances at the Miller Theatre, National Sawdust, Library of Congress, and Walker Arts Center; a project with Eliott Reed at MoMA PS1 entitled This Longing Vessel; and Beautiful Trouble, a digital billboard truck performance with Natacha Diels.

      JACK maintains close relationships with today’s most creative voices, collaborating with the composers whose music they perform to fully realize the technical, musical, and emotional aspects of their work. The quartet has worked with artists such as Julia Wolfe, George Lewis, Chaya Czernowin, Helmut Lachenmann, Caroline Shaw, and Simon Steen-Andersen, with upcoming and recent premieres including works by Tyshawn Sorey, Sabrina Schroeder, John Luther Adams, Clara Iannotta, Philip Glass, Catherine Lamb, Lester St. Louis, and John Zorn. JACK’s all-access initiative, JACK Studio, commissions a selection of artists each year, who receive money, workshop time, mentorship, and resources to develop new work to be performed and recorded by the quartet.

      JACK has been covered by all major news outlets. The Boston Globe called the quartet "superheroes of the new music world," the Washington Post heralded the ensemble as "the go-to quartet for contemporary music, tying impeccable musicianship to intellectual ferocity and a take-no-prisoners sense of commitment," and NPR stated that “no one today has the command of [contemporary] music like the young JACK quartet.”

      JACK has performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall (United States), Lincoln Center (United States), Berlin Philharmonie (Germany), Wigmore Hall (United Kingdom), Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ (Netherlands), The Louvre (France), Kölner Philharmonie (Germany), the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), Suntory Hall (Japan), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Festival Internacional Cervantino (Mexico), and Teatro Colón (Argentina). Additional awards include Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award, New Music USA's Trailblazer Award, and the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.

      According to Musical America, “many of their recordings are must-haves, for anyone interested in new music.” Among the quartet's dozens of releases, the Cold Blue Music album of John Luther Adams’ Everything That Rises was praised as “a wise and eloquent performance” by the San Francisco Chronicle; the concept album Imaginist, a collaboration with the Le Boeuf Brothers, was nominated for a GRAMMY Award in 2018; and Xenakis: String Quartets was named one of TimeOut New York’s Top Recordings of the Year. Other albums include music by Helmut Lachenmann, Du Yun, Amy Williams, Elliott Sharp, Hannah Lash, and Horatiu Radulescu.

      Committed to education, JACK is the quartet-in-residence at Mannes School of Music, which hosts the JACK Frontiers Festival, a multifaceted festival of contemporary music for string quartet. The members also teach each summer at New Music on the Point, a contemporary chamber music festival in Vermont for young performers and composers, and at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. JACK has long-standing relationships with the University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program, in which they teach and collaborate with students each fall and spring, and with the Lucerne Festival Academy, of which the four members are alumni. Additionally, the quartet collaborates with young composers at schools including Columbia University, Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, and Stanford University.

      Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell, JACK operates as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, commissioning, and appreciation of new string quartet music.

      About the Kodak Quartet (2022–2024 Cuker and Stern Graduate String Quartet)

      The dynamic Kodak Quartet is setting the world on fire with its passionate and energetic playing. The group is highly regarded for its work with contemporary composers on new compositions and for presenting traditional works with an electrifying contemporary flavor. Kodak's members hail from the United States, Canada, and France. The quartet formed in Rochester, New York, while attending the Eastman School of Music and playing often in Kodak Hall on campus. The Kodak Quartet just completed a stint at Montclair State University as the graduate string quartet-in-residence.

      The Kodak Quartet consists of violinists Edgar Donati and Martin Noh, cellist Blake Kitayama, and violist Daniel Spink. 

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