Acclaimed for his inspirational performances and eloquent musicianship, Paul Watkins enjoys a distinguished career as concerto soloist, chamber musician and conductor. Born in 1970, he studied with William Pleeth, Melissa Phelps and Johannes Goritzki, and at the age of 20 was appointed Principal Cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. During his solo career he has collaborated with world renowned conductors including Sakari Oramo, Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Mark Elder, Andris Nelsons, Sir Andrew Davis, and Sir Charles Mackerras. He performs regularly with all the major British orchestras and others further afield, including with the Norwegian Radio, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony and Queensland Orchestras. He has also made eight concerto appearances at the BBC Proms, most recently with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in the world premiere of the cello concerto composed for him by his brother, Huw Watkins, and premiered (and was the dedicatee of) Mark-Anthony Turnage’s cello concerto. Highlights of recent seasons include concerto appearances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, and the BBC Symphony under Semyon Bychkov, a tour with the European Union Youth Orchestra under the baton of Bernard Haitink, and his US concerto debut with the Colorado Symphony. A dedicated chamber musician, Watkins was a member of the Nash Ensemble from 1997 to 2013, and joined the Emerson String Quartet in May 2013. He is a regular guest artist at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York and Music@Menlo, and in 2014 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in Detroit. Watkins also maintains a busy career as a conductor and, since winning the 2002 Leeds Conducting Competition, has conducted all the major British orchestras. Further afield he has conducted the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Prague Symphony, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Tampere Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic and the Melbourne Symphony, Queensland and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestras. Paul Watkins is an exclusive recording artist with Chandos Records and his recent releases include Britten’s Cello Symphony, the Delius, Elgar, Lutoslawski and Walton cello concertos, and discs of British and American music for cello and piano with Huw Watkins. His first recording as a conductor, of the Berg and Britten violin concertos with Daniel Hope, received a Grammy® nomination.
Cello: Domenico Montagnana and Matteo Goffriller in Venice, c.1730.
Violinist Eugene Drucker, a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet in 1976, is also an active soloist. He has appeared with the orchestras of Montreal, Brussels, Antwerp, Liege, Hartford, Richmond, Omaha, Jerusalem, and the Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Chamber Symphony and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. A graduate of Columbia University and the Juilliard School, where he studied with Oscar Shumsky, Mr. Drucker was concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra, with which he appeared as soloist several times. He made his New York debut as a Concert Artists Guild winner in the fall of 1976, after having won prizes at the Montreal Competition and the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. Mr. Drucker has recorded the complete unaccompanied works of Bach for Parnassus Records and the complete sonatas and duos of Bartók for Biddulph Recordings.
Since 2017, Eugene Drucker has been the Music Director of Berkshire Bach Society’s “Bach at New Year’s” concerts.
With the Emerson String Quartet, Eugene Drucker plays about 70 concerts per year in North America, Europe and Asia. The quartet’s discography features a repertoire embracing the entire history of the string quartet from Haydn to contemporary works and has been rewarded with 9 Grammys and 3 Gramophone Magazine Awards.
His first novel, The Savior, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2007 and appeared in a German translation called Wintersonate. A second novel, Yearning, was published in the fall of 2021.
Mr. Drucker's compositional debut, a setting of four sonnets by Shakespeare, was premiered by baritone Andrew Nolen and the Escher String Quartet at Stony Brook in 2008; the songs have appeared as part of a 2-CD release called "Stony Brook Soundings," issued by Bridge Recordings in the spring of 2010. Subsequent works include Series of Twelve (a suite for string quartet, scheduled for several performances by the Escher Quartet this season); Madness and the Death of Ophelia, a musical adaptation of four scenes from Hamlet; and two song cycles based on the poetry of Denise Levertov, for high voice and strings.
Violins: Antonius Stradivarius (Cremona, 1686), Ryan Soltis (Idaho, 2015)
Violinist Philip Setzer, a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and began studying violin at the age of five with his parents, both former violinists in the Cleveland Orchestra. He continued his studies with Josef Gingold and Rafael Druian, and later at the Juilliard School with Oscar Shumsky. In 1967, Mr. Setzer won second prize at the Marjorie Merriweather Post Competition in Washington, DC, and in 1976 received a Bronze Medal at the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels. He has appeared with the National Symphony, Aspen Chamber Symphony (David Robertson, conductor), Memphis Symphony (Michael Stern), New Mexico and Puerto Rico Symphonies (Guillermo Figueroa), Omaha and Anchorage Symphonies (David Loebel) and on several occasions with the Cleveland Orchestra (Louis Lane). He has also participated in the Marlboro Music Festival. In April of 1989, Mr. Setzer premiered Paul Epstein's Matinee Concerto. This piece, dedicated to and written for Mr. Setzer, has since been performed by him in Hartford, New York, Cleveland, Boston, and Aspen.
Currently serving as the Distinguished Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at SUNY Stony Brook, Mr. Setzer was recently appointed as the Artistic Director of the Manchester Music Festival in Vermont and will start his tenure in October of 2023. A visiting Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Mr. Setzer has also been bestowed the title of Artistic Director of Strings Chamber Music. He serves as Director of the Shouse Institute, the teaching division of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in Detroit. As a regular faculty member of the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshops at Carnegie Hall and the Jerusalem Music Center, Mr. Setzer wrote an article about those workshops that appeared in The New York Times on the occasion of Isaac Stern's 80th birthday celebration in 2000.
A versatile musician with innovative vision and dedication to keep the art form of the string quartet alive and relevant, Mr. Setzer was the co-creator of the Emerson’s two highly-praised collaborative theater productions: The Noise of Time, premiered at Lincoln Center in 2001 and directed by Simon McBurney, is a multi-media production about the life of Shostakovich and was performed 60 times throughout the world; in 2016, Mr. Setzer teamed up with writer-director James Glossman for the Emerson’s latest music/theater project, Shostakovich and the Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy. Premiered at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Black Monk has been performed at the Tanglewood Music Festival, Princeton University, Wolf Trap, Ravinia Festival, Lotte Concert Hall in Seoul, Korea and Stony Brook University. Mr. Setzer has also been, and will continue, touring and recording the piano trio repertoire with David Finckel and Wu Han. He plays a violin made for him in 2011 by Samuel Zygmuntowicz.
Lawrence Dutton, violist of the nine-time Grammy winning Emerson String Quartet, has collaborated with many of the world’s great performing artists, including Isaac Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich, Oscar Shumsky, Leon Fleisher, Sir Paul McCartney, Renee Fleming, Sir James Galway, Andre Previn, Menahem Pressler, Walter Trampler, Rudolf Firkusny, Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Lynn Harrell, Joseph Kalichstein, Misha Dichter, Jan DeGaetani, Edgar Meyer, Joshua Bell, and Elmar Oliveira, among others. He has also performed as guest artist with numerous chamber music ensembles such as the Juilliard and Guarneri Quartets, the Beaux Arts Trio and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. Since 2001, Mr. Dutton has been the Artistic Advisor of the Hoch Chamber Music Series, presenting three concerts at Concordia College in Bronxville, NY. He has been featured on three albums with the Grammy winning jazz bassist John Patitucci on the Concord Jazz label and with the Beaux Arts Trio recorded the Shostakovich Piano Quintet, Op. 57, and the Fauré G minor Piano Quartet, Op. 45, on the Philips label. His Aspen Music Festival recording with Jan DeGaetani for Bridge records was nominated for a Grammy award. Mr. Dutton has appeared as soloist with many American and European orchestras including those of Germany, Belgium, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado, and Virginia, among others. He has also appeared as guest artist at the music festivals of Aspen, Santa Fe, Ravinia, La Jolla, the Heifetz Institute, the Great Mountains Festival in Korea, Chamber Music Northwest, the Rome Chamber Music Festival and the Great Lakes Festival. With the late Isaac Stern he had collaborated in the International Chamber Music Encounters both at Carnegie Hall and in Jerusalem. Currently Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at Stony Brook University and at the Robert McDuffie School for Strings at Mercer University in Georgia, Mr. Dutton began violin studies with Margaret Pardee and on viola with Francis Tursi at the Eastman School. He earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees at the Juilliard School, where he studied with Lillian Fuchs and has received Honorary Doctorates from Middlebury College in Vermont, The College of Wooster in Ohio, Bard College in New York and The Hartt School of Music in Connecticut. Most recently, Mr. Dutton and the other members of the Emerson Quartet were presented the 2015 Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award from Chamber Music America and were recipients of the Avery Fisher Award in 2004. They were also inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2010 and were Musical America’s Ensemble of the year for 2000. Mr. Dutton resides in Bronxville, NY with his wife violinist Elizabeth Lim-Dutton and their three sons Luke, Jesse and Samuel.
Mr. Dutton exclusively uses Thomastik Spirocore strings.
Viola: Samuel Zygmuntowicz (Brooklyn, NY 2003).