• Founded 2005
The JACK Quartet, often known simply as JACK, has specialized in the performance of contemporary music for string quartet. The group was founded in 2005 by violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Kevin McFarland, whose initials spelled out the name. The original members were students at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, but they joined forces in New York City and studied with the Kronos, Arditti, and Muir Quartets. Violinist Austin Wulliman and cellist Jay Campbell replaced Streisfeld and McFarland in 2016, but the name was retained.
JACK has performed at top international venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, and the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam. It has appeared not only at venerable outposts of the European avant-garde such as the Donaueschingen Festival in Germany, the Venice Biennale in Italy, and the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, but also at Indonesia's Bali Arts Festival, with works by such composers as Iannis Xenakis, Georg Friedrich Haas, Helmut Lachenmann, and Steve Reich at the center of its repertory. It has been heard on several programs on U.S. National Public Radio and its affiliates, as well as on national radio in Australia.
JACK has combined concertizing with a strong educational mission. It has begun educational residencies with composition students from institutions including New York University, Columbia University, and the University of Iowa, with whose String Quartet Residency Program it has a long relationship. The group spends two weeks each summer teaching at New Music on the Point, a contemporary chamber music festival in Vermont for young performers and composers. Additionally, the quartet makes regular visits to schools including Columbia University, Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, Stanford University, and the University of Washington. JACK has recorded for the Mode (its 2009 debut, featuring music of Xenakis), Tzadik, Albany, New World, and Wergo labels, among others; the year 2018 saw them collaborating with mezzo-soprano Inbal Hever on a release of music by Chaya Czernowin.