Jupiter String Quartet

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The Jupiter String Quartet is a particularly intimate group, consisting of violinists Nelson Lee and Meg Freivogel, violist Liz Freivogel (Meg’s older sister), and cellist Daniel McDonough (Meg’s husband, Liz’s brother-in-law). Now enjoying their 16th year together, this tight-knit ensemble is firmly established as an important voice in the world of chamber music. In addition to their performing career, they are artists-in-residence at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where they maintain private studios and direct the chamber music program.

The quartet has performed across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Americas 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 Music Festival, Lanaudiere Festival, West Cork (Ireland) Chamber Music Festival, Caramoor International Music Festival, Music at Menlo, Maverick Concerts, Madeline Island Music Festival, Rockport Music Festival, the Banff Centre, Yellow Barn Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Encore Chamber Music Festival, and the Seoul Spring Festival, among others. 

Their chamber music honors and awards include the grand prizes in the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2004. In 2005, they won the Young Concert Artists International auditions in New York City, which quickly led to a busy touring schedule. They received the Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America in 2007, followed by an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2008. From 2007-2010, they were in residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two and, in 2009, they received a grant from the Fromm Foundation to commission a new quartet from Dan Visconti for a CMSLC performance at Alice Tully Hall. In 2012, they were appointed as artists-in-residence and faculty at the University of Illinois, where they continue to perform regularly in the beautiful Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. 

The Jupiter String Quartet feels a particular connection to the core string quartet repertoire; they have presented the complete Bartok string quartets at the University of Illinois and the complete cycle of Beethoven string quartets at the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Lanaudiere Festival in Quebec. Also strongly committed to new music, they have commissioned string quartets from Syd Hodkinson, Hannah Lash, Dan Visconti, and Kati Agócs; a quintet with baritone voice by Mark Adamo; a piano quintet by Pierre Jalbert. The quartet can be heard in numerous recordings on labels including Azica Records, Marquis Classics, and Deutsche Grammophon. Their next release is a recording of contemporary works with piano alongside Australian pianist Bernadette Harvey to be released on Marquis Records in 2019. The Jupiters place a strong emphasis on developing relationships with future classical music audiences through educational performances in schools and other community centers. They believe that, because of the intensity of its interplay and communication, chamber music is one of the most effective ways of spreading an enthusiasm for “classical” music to new audiences. 

Early exposure to chamber music brought these four musicians together. Meg and Liz grew up playing string quartets with their two brothers and they grew to love chamber music during weekly coachings with cellist Oliver Edel, who taught generations of students in the Washington, D.C. area. Nelson’s parents are pianists (his father also conducts) and his twin sisters, Alicia and Andrea, are both musicians. Although Daniel originally wanted to be a violinist, he chose the cello because the organizers of his first string program declared that he had “better hands for the cello,” and is happy that he ended up where he did. 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.

Jupiter String Quartet performs on May 12, 14, 15, 19, and 21.