Acclaimed for their exhilarating performances of old and new repertoire, the Contrasts Quartet is a group of four extraordinary virtuosi whose instruments include clarinet, violin, cello and piano. The group chose its name to describe the contrasting timbres of their instruments, as well as the variety of their repertoire. The ensemble performs a mix of duos, trios and quartets, presenting innovative and entertaining programming designed to appeal to a broad range of audiences. The Contrasts Quartet has worked with many living composers and has commissioned and premiered works of Aaron Jay Kernis, Michael Torke, Ned Rorem, Scott Johnson and Derek Bermel, among others.
The Quartet has been invited to perform in Europe and across the United States. Concert appearances have included performances at Carnegie's Weill Hall, Merkin Hall and live appearances on New York's WNYC Radio and the nationally syndicated St. Paul Sunday radio program. Their concert tours have taken them from San Francisco to Spain. The ensemble has also been invited to participate in many residencies, including Norfolk Summer Festival in Connecticut, the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, Music in the Park Series in St. Paul, Minnesota, Penn State/Erie, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Bowdoin College in Maine and the Fitchburg Public Schools and Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts. .
Philharmonic for Leipzig, Dublin, Edinburgh, London (on the 1996 Proms), Copenhagen, and Lucerne.
Knowing When to Stop, Rorem's newest book, is an autobiographical memoir of the composer's first 28 years; issued by Simon and Schuster in fall 1994, it is now in its second printing and has come out in paperback. Rorem has said: "My music is a diary no less compromising than my prose. A diary nevertheless differs from a musical composition in that it depicts the moment, the writer's present mood which, were it inscribed an hour later, could emerge quite otherwise. I don't believe that composers notate their moods, they don't tell the music where to go -- it leads them....Why do I write music? Because I want to hear it -- it's simple as that. Others may have more talent, more sense of duty. But I compose just from necessity, and no one else is making what I need."