Hailed by The Strad as "a foursome of uncommon refinement and musical distinction", the Shanghai Quartet has earned the reputation as one of the world´s most outstanding quartets. Originally formed in Shanghai, this versatile ensemble is known for their passionate musicality, astounding technique, and multicultural innovations. The Quartet´s elegant style of melding the delicacy of Eastern music with Western repertoire allows them to travel the world, both onstage and in the recording studio.
Formed at the Shanghai Conservatory in 1983, the Shanghai Quartet has worked with such distinguished artists as cellists Yo-Yo Ma and David Soyer; flutist Eugenia Zukerman; guitarists Eliot Fisk and Sharon Isbin; pianists Gerhard Oppitz, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Menahem Pressler, Ruth Laredo, and Joseph Kalichstein; and violinist Arnold Steinhardt. Regularly touring the major music centers of Europe and North America, the Shanghai Quartet has performed, among other locations, in London, Hamburg, Milan, and Amsterdam, as well as in Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland, Princeton, St. Paul, Toronto, and Washington, D.C., where they appear frequently at the Freer Gallery. In addition, they often tour major Asian cities in China, Japan, and Korea. The quartet has also performed in Australia and New Zealand. Recent international engagements include The Casals Festival in Puerto Rico and The West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Ireland.
The Quartet has a distinguished teaching record. Their involvements now include serving as the Quartet-in-Residence at Montclair State University, where they teach chamber music and offer individual lessons. In addition, they serve as resident guest professors at the Shanghai Conservatory in China. The Quartet has also served as Ensemble-in-Residence at the Tanglewood and Ravinia festivals and has made several appearances at Lincoln Center´s Mostly Mozart Festival and on it "Great Performers" series. They have also served as Graduate Ensemble-in-Residence at the Juilliard School where they assisted the Juilliard String Quartet, and as the Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Richmond.
The Shanghai Quartet has a long history of championing new music. Recent projects include a commission with Chamber Music America. They have also premiered Lowell Lieberman´s Quartet No. 2, Op. 60, in honor of the National Federation of Music Clubs´ 100th anniversary, and a work by Bright Sheng commissioned by the University of Richmond and the Freer Gallery.
Recording for Delos International, the Shanghai Quartet has built an extensive discography. In November of 2002, a 24-track collection of Chinese folk songs, titled ChinaSong, was released in the U.S., featuring music arranged by Yi-Wen Jiang from his childhood memories of the Chinese Cultural revolution. In 2003, a new recording of music by Bright Sheng was released on the Bis label, titled Silent Temple. Other recent recordings include an elegant pairing of Ravel´s Quartet with Frank Bridge´s Quartet in E minor and Novelletten; The Flowing Stream, Chinese folk songs and tone poems by Zhou Long, with pipa player Min Xiao-Fen; and a Brahms album, pairing the Quartet No. 3 in B flat major, Op. 67 and the String Quintet No. 1 in F major, Op. 88, with guest violinist Arnold Steinhardt.
Winners of the prestigious Chicago Discovery Competition in 1987, the Shanghai Quartet took second place at the Portsmouth International String Quartet Competition (now the London International Competition) in 1985 and was nominated for the Asahi Broadcasting Company´s International Music Award after their first tour of the Far East in 1996. They have also studied with the Tokyo String Quartet and the Vermeer Quartet.