The Pacifica Quartet, though barely four years old, offers a salutary example of how budding performers might embark on a long, fulfilling career. Its members–violinists Simin Ganatra and Kyu-Young Kim, violist Kathryn Lockwood, and cellist Brandon Vamos–have known one another since their student days at Yale, Indiana, Oberlin, and Southern Cal, when they met through summer-festival master classes. Shortly after graduation, all but Kim, who joined later, decided to band together in Los Angeles, where some of them had grown up. As a quartet, they apprenticed first with the estimable Emerson (which, incidentally, will be at Orchestra Hall next week for a Beethoven recital), then with the Vermeer, and took helpful tips from the Juilliard Quartet’s Robert Mann and Samuel Rhodes. Like a lot of fledgling string quartets in the intensely competitive field, they have paced themselves deliberately, avoiding the frenzy of the international recital circuit. A couple of years ago, with the requisite number of prestigious prizes under their belt, the Pacifica kids moved to Chicago for a residency at Northeastern Illinois University; that’s when I first heard them perform. They hadn’t quite jelled yet, but there was enough sparkle and intelligence to mark them as a possible heir to the Vermeer or the Cleveland–an impassioned but levelheaded interpreter of the standards and a sympathetic advocate of the new. After the Northeastern stint, the quartet moved to Music Center of the North Shore, where they teach and are actively engaged in assorted outreach programs. At a recital last fall, I was struck by their cohesiveness and sense of adventure; in their hands a Beethoven quartet had a zest that announced a puzzle solved. The program for the Pacifica’s contribution to Ravinia’s Rising Stars series consists of Beethoven’s no. 1, Bartok’s no. 5, and Dvorak’s American; at the church show the Bartok will be replaced by Jennifer Higdon’s Voices. Friday, 8 PM, Bennett-Gordon Hall, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 847-266-5100. Sunday, 3 PM, Christ Church Chapel, 470 Maple, Winnetka; 847-446-3822. TED SHEN
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Jeffrey Hornstein.