One of the unique elements of the Taos School of Music is how closely TSoM Young Artists work with and learn from internationally-acclaimed professional quartets. The New Hungarian Quartet was the first quartet to teach at the TSoM. Thereafter, the American, Chicago, Muir, Angeles, Vermeer, St. Lawrence, Miami, Takacs, and Miro worked mentored the School’s Young Artists. Currently, the Borromeo, Brentano, Shanghai, and Cooperstown Quartets spend a part of their summers teaching at the School.
Piano faculty began with John Goldmark, Dean and President of the Mannes College of Music. Then, Anne Koscielny, professor of piano at Hartt School, joined as faculty for ten years. In 1982 Robert McDonald, now on the faculty of the Julliard School and Curtis Institute of Music, joined the school as resident pianist and Artistic Director and remains with Taos School of Music today. He is joined by Thomas Sauer, member of the music faculty of Vassar College and the piano faculty at Mannes School of Music.
Artistic Director and Pianist
Pianist Robert McDonald has played extensively as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America. He has appeared with major orchestras in the United States and Latin America, and was the recital partner for many years to Isaac Stern, as well as other celebrated instrumentalists. Mr. McDonald has also performed with the Takács, Vermeer, Juilliard, Brentano, Borromeo, American, and Shanghai string quartets, and in tours with Music from Marlboro.
His discography includes recordings for Sony Classical, Bridge, Vox, Musical Heritage Society, ASV, and CRI, and Mr. McDonald’s prizes include the Gold Medal at the Busoni International Piano Competition, the William Kapell International Competition, and the Deutsche Schallplatten Critics Award. He has studied with Theodore Rehl, Seymour Lipkin, Rudolf Serkin, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Beveridge Webster, and Gary Graffman, and holds degrees from Lawrence University, The Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, and the Manhattan School of Music.
A member of the piano faculty at the Juilliard School since 1999, Mr. McDonald joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2007. In addition to coaching piano at Taos School of Music, he is also the school’s artistic director. This will be his forty-first summer in Taos.
Pianist Thomas Sauer is highly sought after as soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. Recent appearances include concerto performances with the Quad-City and Tallahassee Symphonies; solo performances at Carnegie Hall and St. John’s College, Oxford; and performances with the Chamber Music Societies of Lincoln Center and Philadelphia.
With his long-time duo partner Colin Carr, Mr. Sauer has appeared at the Wigmore Hall (London), the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Bargemusic (New York City), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), and Princeton University among many other venues. He has performed with members of the Juilliard String Quartet at the Library of Congress and given numerous concerts with the Brentano String Quartet. Other performances have taken place at the leading festivals in the United States and abroad, including Marlboro, Caramoor, Music@ Menlo, Chamber Music Northwest, and Taos, as well as Lake District Summer Music (England), Agassiz (Canada), and Festival des Consonances (France).
A faculty member of both Vassar College and Mannes College The New School for Music, Mr. Sauer is the founder and director of the Mannes Beethoven Institute, now in its fifth season.
The visionary performances of the Borromeo String Quartet have established them as one of the most important string quartets of our time. “They probe and analyze from every angle until they discover how to best unveil the psychological, physical, and spiritual states that a great piece of music evokes. They’re champions of new music…but they also thrive on making the old classics sound vital and fresh,” said Cathy Fuller, Classical New England host on WGBH radio. She continued, “To hear and see them perform has always felt to me like taking a private tour through a composer’s mind.” The Borromeo have been trailblazers in the use of laptop computers for reading music. This method allows them to perform entirely from 4-part scores and also composer’s manuscripts, a revealing and transformative experience that they now teach to students around the world.
“To hear and see them perform has always felt to me like taking a private tour through a composer’s mind.”
Cathy Fuller Classical New England radio host
The Quartet has received many awards throughout their illustrious career, including Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Career Grant and Martin E. Segal Award, and Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award. They won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and top prizes at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France.
The Cooperstown Quartet brings together four of the chamber music world’s most exciting and experienced performers. Its members- violinists Ara Gregorian and Hye-Jin Kim, violist Maria Lambros and cellist Michael Kannen- are former members of some of this country’s most respected ensembles: the Brentano, Daedalus, Mendelssohn and Ridge string quartets as well as the string sextet, Concertante. Having played together for years, they now make it official.
These musicians have performed in the world’s most prestigious chamber music venues, including New York’s Carnegie and Alice Tully halls, London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Vienna’s Konzerthaus; won international competitions including the Yehudi Menuhin International and Concert Artists Guild International competitions; performed throughout Asia, Australia, Europe and North America; and are veterans of the Four Seasons, Marlboro, Santa Fe, Ravinia, Yellow Barn, Chamber Music Northwest and Prussia Cove chamber music festivals. In addition to their extensive music-making careers, they are all dedicated teachers, with appointments at the Peabody Conservatory and East Carolina University. In short, four consummate musicians come together to form one dynamic and brilliant string quartet.
Over the past thirty-seven years the Shanghai Quartet has become one of the world’s foremost chamber ensembles. The Shanghai’s elegant style, impressive technique, and emotional breadth allows the group to move seamlessly between masterpieces of Western music, traditional Chinese folk music, and cutting-edge contemporary works. Formed at the Shanghai Conservatory in 1983, soon after the end of China’s harrowing Cultural Revolution, the group came to the United States to complete its studies; since then the members have been based in the U.S. while maintaining a robust touring schedule at leading chamber-music series throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
The Shanghai Quartet has an extensive discography of more than thirty recordings, ranging from Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets with Rudolf Buchbinder to Zhou Long’s Poems from Tang for string quartet and orchestra with the Singapore Symphony. The Quartet has recorded the complete Beethoven string quartets and is currently recording the complete Bartók quartets.
A diverse array of media projects run the gamut from a cameo appearance playing Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4 in Woody Allen’s film Melinda and Melinda to PBS television’s Great Performances series. Violinist Weigang Li appeared in the documentary From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China, and the family of cellist Nicholas Tzavaras was the subject of the film Music of the Heart, starring Meryl Streep. The Shanghai Quartet is the subject of a full-length
The Shanghai Quartet is The Tianjin (China) Juilliard School resident faculty. The Quartet also is the Ensemble-in-Residence with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and visiting guest professors of the Shanghai Conservatory and Central Conservatory in Beijing. They are proudly sponsored by Thomastik-Infeld Strings and BAM Cases.
Brentano String Quartet
Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. “Passionate, uninhibited and spellbinding,” raves the London Independent; the New York Times extols its “luxuriously warm sound [and] yearning lyricism”; the Philadelphia Inquirer praises its “seemingly infallible instincts for ﬁnding the center of gravity in every phrase and musical gesture”.
In addition to performing the entire two-century range of the standard quartet repertoire, the Brentano Quartet has a strong interest in both very old and very new music. It has performed many musical works pre-dating the string quartet as a medium, and has worked closely with some of the most important composers of our time.
“…seemingly infallible instincts for finding the center of gravity in every phrase and musical gesture.”
In 1999 the Quartet became the ﬁrst Ensemble-In-Residence at Princeton University, where they taught and performed for ﬁfteen years. The fall of 2014 brought the Brentano to Yale as the Resident String Quartet of the Yale School of Music where they perform in concert each semester, and work closely with the students in chamber music contexts.