Lydian String Quartet
The Lydian String Quartet are professors of the practice of music at Brandeis. For over 30 years, their exquisite artistry has inspired worldwide critical acclaim. The quartet's interpretive mastery of such traditional repertoire as Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven, and Ravel--along with their special flair for contemporary music--has earned them international accolades, including the prestigious Naumburg Award for Chamber Music.
The Lydians have concertized extensively throughout the United States at venues such as Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall, Jordan Hall, the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center. Internationally, they have performed in England, France, Italy, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Russia.
Essential to the spirit of the Lydians is the commissioning and recording of new works. Their five-year project, "American Originals," celebrated the rich repertoire of the 20th-century American string quartet. During that time they performed or recorded more than 60 works of American composers. With education as an integral part of the quartet's mission, the Lydians have conducted mini-residencies in communities and universities throughout the United States.
In the fall of 2001, they began another ambitious five-year project, "Vienna and the String Quartet," which juxtaposes works of two and a half centuries, from Haydn and Brahms through Webern, Schoenberg and beyond.
Winners of two Chamber Music America/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, the quartet has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation/AT&T Jazz Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, and numerous awards from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.
Judith Eissenberg is a founding member and second violinist of the Lydian String Quartet, on the faculty at Brandeis since 1980. With the quartet, she has won numerous international prizes, including the Naumburg Award for Excellence in Chamber Music, commissioned new works, and has toured extensively in the United States and abroad. A performer on both modern and period instruments, she has been a member and soloist with the Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra and has appeared with other performing organizations, including the Boston Chamber Music Society, The Boston Conservatory Chamber Players, Emmanuel Music, Boston Pops, and Boston Baroque. She is a founding member and a co-director of Music From Salem, a chamber music festival in upstate New York that was established in 1987. At Brandeis, she founded and directs MusicUnitesUS (link), an innovative program that brings musicians from world traditions to campus for residencies that explore culture, social issues, and artistic expression through music. Residency events include open classes, public school outreach (partnership with the Waltham Public Schools), workshops and concerts.
Cellist Joshua Gordon joined the Lydian String Quartet in 2002 and is a professor of the practice on the faculty at Brandeis. Gordon has earned acclaim for his work as a soloist and chamber musician in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, Europe, Japan, and South America. Ensemble credits include the Cassatt and Ying Quartets, the Fromm Chamber Players at Harvard University, the Group For Contemporary Music, the New Millennium Ensemble, the New York Chamber Soloists, the New York Festival of Song, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Speculum Musicae. Gordon has played recitals in New York City's Merkin Hall, Weill Hall, and the Museum of Modern Art, and at the University of California at San Diego and the University of Maryland at College Park. He is an alumnus of the Juilliard School and the Tanglewood Music Center; his principal teachers were Harvey Shapiro, Joel Krosnick, and the Juilliard Quartet, with whom he appeared on the PBS program "Live From Lincoln Center: Juilliard at 80." He is featured on recordings from Albany, CRI, Cala, Koch International Classics, Tall Poppies, and Tzadik..
Mary Ruth Ray (in memoriam, 1956-2013)
An original member of the Lydian String Quartet, violist Mary Ruth Ray was an internationally known performer who received critical acclaim throughout the United States, Europe, and Russia. She was on the faculty of Brandeis from 1980 until her untimely and tragic death due to breast cancer. She taught viola and chamber music, and was appointed Chair of the Music Department in 2005. An active soloist and chamber musician, she performed as guest artist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Bard Music Festival, Apple Hill Chamber Players, Boston Musica Viva, and Juneau Jazz and Classics, and she was invited to present a featured concert/demonstration of the Bach Cello Suites for the 13th International Viola Congress. As member and soloist with Emmanuel Music in Boston, Ms. Ray performed the complete cycle of more than 200 sacred cantatas by Bach as well as chamber music of Debussy, Brahms, Harbison, Schubert, and Schoenberg. She was a recording artist with CRI, Nonesuch, Centaur, Harmonia Mundi, and New World Records. She is greatly missed by all who knew her.
Grammy-nominated musician Daniel Stepner is the first violinist for the Lydian String Quartet, replacing Wilma Smith in 1987. He earned his second Grammy nomination in 2005 for best small ensemble performance (with or without conductor) for his work on world-premiere recordings of retired Brandeis music professor Yehudi Wyner's "The Mirror/Passover Offerings." Stepner, a professor of the practice on the faculty at Brandeis, is a member of the Boston Museum Trio and concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society. During the summers, he serves as artistic director of the Aston Magna Festival in the Berkshires. As a touring musician, he has played in 11 countries in Western Europe and the former Soviet Union, and throughout Australia and the United States. He has performed and recorded a wide repertoire of period and contemporary instruments. In addition to the Lydian String Quartet's many recordings, he has recorded chamber music by Buxtehude, Bach, Marais, Rameau, Vivaldi, Telemann, Mozart, Schubert, and Charles Ives. He studied with Steven Staryk in Chicago, with Nadia Boulanger in France, and with Broadus Erle at Yale.
The Lydian String Quartet on CD
- Anderson, Allen: String Quartet (CRI 727)
- Bouchard, Linda: Lung Ta (CRI 672)
- Boykan, Martin: String Quartet No. 4 (CRI CD 786)
- Brahms: Piano Quintet and Viola Quintet in G, with Brandeis alumnae Sally Pinkas and Betty Hauck; CD produced by Brandeis University
- Child, Peter: String Quartet No. 1 (Neuma CD 450)
- Child, Peter: String Quartet No. 2 and other chamber music (New World Records CD 80594-2)
- Fauré, Gabriel: La Bonne Chanson, with Sanford Sylvan, baritone and David Breitman, piano (Nonesuch 79371-2)
- Fine, Irving: String Quartet (Nonesuch 9 79175-2)
- Fussell, Charles: “Being Music” with Sanford Sylvan, baritone (Koch 3-7338-2 H1)
- Harbison, John: Two String Quartets, and “November 19, 1828”
with Yehudi Wyner, piano (Harmonia Mundi France 907057)
- Harbison, John: String Quartet No. 3, “Thanks, Victor” and “The Rewaking,” with Dominique Labelle, soprano (Musica Omnia 0110)
- Hyla, Lee: Second and Third String Quartets (New World Records 80491-2)
- Hyla, Lee: Fourth String Quartet (Tzadik)
- Ives, Charles: The String Quartets (Centaur 2069)
- Karlins, William: Quintet for Alto Sax and String Quartet (1974), with Paul Bro, saxophone; Music from Northwestern, Vol. 8, CD from Northwestern University
- Lydian String Quartet in Moscow: (MCA; music of Chaushian, Firsova, Thomas Oboe Lee, Peter Child [out of print])
- Nieske, Bob: Simplicity; the Bob Nieske Trio with the Lydian String Quartet
- Ornstein, Leo: Piano Quintet, with Janice Weber, piano and String Quartet No. 3 (New World Records 80509-2)
- Persichetti, Vincent: The Four String Quartets (Centaur 2833)
- Schubert, Franz: “Death and the Maiden” (song and string quartet), and Quartet in B-flat, with Mary Westbrook-Geha, mezzo-soprano (Centaur 2186)
- Schuman, William: Three String Quartets (Harmonia Mundi France 907114)
- Shapero, Harold: Serenade for String Quintet, String Quartet, String Trio (New World Records 80569-2)
- Wyner, Yehudi: String Quartet (1985), Brandeis Sunday (1996), and other chamber music, Song Cycle “On This Most Voluptuous Night” with soprano Dominique Labelle (New World Records)
- Ludwig van Beethoven: The Late String Quartets
Soon to be released:
Martin Boykan: Quartet No. 3
Gardner Read: Piano Quintet