Anthony McGillClarinet Pacifica Quartet

Anthony McGill and Pacifica Quartet
Simin Ganatra, violin Austin Hartman, violin Mark Holloway, viola Brandon Vamos, cello

Tuesday, December 3, 2024 |  7:30pm

Herbst TheatreVenue Information


About This Performance

The prestigious first clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic, Anthony McGill is an acclaimed soloist and chamber musician in his own right. Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times), he is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. McGill is joined by the multiple Grammy® Award-winning Pacifica Quartet, which has been described as “nothing short of phenomenal” by The Telegraph (UK).


DVOŘÁK: String Quartet Op. 96 “American”
BEN SHIRLEY: High Sierra Sonata for Clarinet and Quartet
BRAHMS: Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115

Performance Sponsors

Neil O’Donnell and Chris Motley

Artist Information

Performer Biographies

Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times), clarinetist Anthony McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. In addition to his dynamic international solo and chamber music career, McGill is principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic—the first African-American principal player in the organization’s history.

He is the recipient of the most recent Avery Fisher Prize, one of classical music’s most significant awards given in recognition of soloists who represent the highest level of musical excellence. McGill was honored to take part in the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams and performing alongside violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Gabriela Montero.

McGill appears regularly as a soloist with top orchestras, including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. This season he’ll make his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut performing You Have the Right to Remain Silent by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis, conducted by John Adams, and will also perform the work with the Britten Sinfonia during his time serving as the Barbican Centre’s Milton Court Artist-in-Residence. He’ll open the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s season and, with the Indianapolis Symphony and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, he will perform a new clarinet concerto, Bologne (Chevalier de Saint-Georges): Clarinet Concerto (transcription of Violin Concerto in A major, Op. 5, No. 2, transcribed by Derek Bermel). Anthony offered the world premiere of the Bologne transcription during the 2022–23 season when he was the Orlando Philharmonic Artist-in-Residence.

As a chamber musician, McGill is a favorite collaborator of the Brentano, Daedalus, Guarneri, JACK, Miró, Pacifica, Shanghai, Takács, and Tokyo Quartets, as well as Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Gloria Chien, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and Lang Lang. He has toured with Musicians from Marlboro and regularly performs for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. His festival appearances include Marlboro, Mainly Mozart, Ravinia, Skaneateles, Tanglewood, and the Music@Menlo, Santa Fe, and Seattle Chamber Music Festivals.

This season, Anthony and comedian (and fellow clarinetist!) Kimberly Clark (Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready—Season 2 on Netflix;) debut a unique storytelling comedy project at Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara celebrating their shared roots as band kids.

McGill is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and previously served as the principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera and associate principal clarinet of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

McGill is an ardent advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. He serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School and also at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he holds the William R. and Hyunah Yu Brody Distinguished Chair. He is the Artistic Director for Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program, a weekend program dedicated to students who demonstrate a commitment to artistic excellence, which actively seeks young musicians from backgrounds underrepresented in classical music.

In 2021, The Juilliard School announced a permanent endowment grant of $50 million for its Music Advancement Program (MAP) from Crankstart, which will fund full-tuition scholarships for all MAP students and program expansion. In 2020, in concert with a $30,000 charitable gift from the Avery Fisher Artist Program designated to a charity of McGill’s choice, McGill and Weston Sprott, Dean of the Preparatory Division of The Juilliard School, established the Weston Sprott and Anthony McGill MAP Summer Scholarship Fund so MAP students can take part in summer programs and festivals.

In 2023, he partnered with Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative to organize a classical music industry convening at EJI’s Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, in which leaders and artists in classical music examined America’s history of racial inequality and how this legacy continues to impact their work.

In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, McGill launched a powerful musical protest video urging people to #TakeTwoKnees in demonstration against the death of George Floyd and historic racial injustice. His video went viral and hundreds of artists and citizens amplified the message and responded to the protest with their own videos using the hashtag #TakeTwoKnees.

McGill has been covered in The New York Times and The New Yorker and has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, PBS, National Public Radio, Performance Today, From the Top, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He has served as the Artist-in-Residence for WQXR.

McGill recorded the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic. With the Pacifica Quartet he has released two albums, American Stories—featuring works by Valerie Coleman, Richard Danielpour, James Lee III, and Ben Shirley chronicling unique perspectives shaped by the American experience—and also Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets.

He and his brother, Demarre McGill, joined the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras & Allen Tinkham, to record Winged Creatures, an album of works for flute, clarinet, and orchestra. Demarre and Anthony also recorded Portraits with pianist Michael McHale. Anthony and pianist Gloria Chien, who are longtime friends and frequent recital partners, released Here With You, an album of favorite works by Brahms, Weber, and Montgomery. McGill’s self-titled debut recording, also recorded with Chien, features early 20th century works by Gershwin, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, and Poulenc.

McGill serves on the board of directors for Cedille Records and the Harmony Program, and on the advisory councils for the InterSchool Orchestras of New York and Time In Children's Arts Initiative. He is a Backun Artist.

With a career spanning nearly three decades, the multiple Grammy® Award-winning Pacifica Quartet has achieved international recognition as one of the finest chamber ensembles performing today. The Quartet is known for its virtuosity, exuberant performance style, and often daring repertory choices. Having served as quartet-in-residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music for the past decade, the Quartet also leads the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at the Aspen Music Festival and School and was previously the quartet-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2021, the Pacifica Quartet received a second Grammy Award for Contemporary Voices, an exploration of music by three Pulitzer Prize-winning composers: Shulamit Ran, Jennifer Higdon, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.

Formed in 1994, the Pacifica Quartet quickly won chamber music’s top competitions, including the 1998 Naumburg Chamber Music Award. In 2002 the ensemble was honored with Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award and the appointment to Lincoln Center’s The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two), and in 2006 was awarded a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. With its powerful energy and captivating, cohesive sound, the Pacifica has established itself as the embodiment of the senior American quartet sound.

The Pacifica Quartet has proven itself the preeminent interpreter of string quartet cycles, harnessing the group’s singular focus and incredible stamina to portray each composer’s evolution, often over the course of just a few days. Having given highly acclaimed performances of the complete Carter cycle in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Houston; the Mendelssohn cycle in Napa, Australia, New York, and Pittsburgh; and the Beethoven cycle in New York, Denver, St. Paul, Chicago, Napa, and Tokyo (in an unprecedented presentation of five concerts in three days at Suntory Hall), the Quartet presented the monumental Shostakovich cycle in Chicago, New York, Montreal, and at London’s Wigmore Hall. The Quartet has been widely praised for these cycles, with critics calling the concerts “brilliant,” “astonishing,” “gripping,” and “breathtaking.”

Upcoming 2023-24 performances and recordings include projects with clarinetist Anthony McGill and guitarist Sharon Isbin. In addition, the Quartet will collaborate with soprano Karen Slack for performances of James Lee III’s A Double Standard, a new song cycle commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Chamber Music Detroit, and the Shriver Hall Concert Series. Named the University of Chicago’s Don Michael Randel Ensemble in Residence for the 2023-24 season, the Pacifica Quartet will perform and give masterclasses at the University of Chicago throughout the year. Additional performances include ones for Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Chamber Music Detroit, Denver Friends of Chamber Music, and Caramoor.

An ardent advocate of contemporary music, the Pacifica Quartet commissions and performs many new works, including those by Keeril Makan, Julia Wolfe, and Shulamit Ran, the latter in partnership with the Music Accord consortium, London’s Wigmore Hall, and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. The work—entitled Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory—had its New York debut as part of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center series.

In 2008 the Quartet released its Grammy® Award-winning recording of Carter’s Quartets Nos. 1 and 5 on the Naxos label; the 2009 release of Quartets Nos. 2, 3, and 4 completed the two-CD set. Cedille Records released the group’s four-CD recording of the entire Shostakovich cycle, paired with other contemporary Soviet works, to rave reviews: “The playing is nothing short of phenomenal.” (Daily Telegraph, London) Other recent recording projects include Leo Ornstein’s rarely heard piano quintet with Marc-André Hamelin with an accompanying tour, the Brahms piano quintet with the legendary pianist Menahem Pressler, the Brahms and Mozart clarinet quintets with clarinetist Anthony McGill, and their Grammy Award-winning Contemporary Voices album.

The members of the Pacifica Quartet live in Bloomington, IN, where they serve as quartet-in-residence and full-time faculty members at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Prior to their appointment, the Quartet was on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana from 2003 to 2012, and also served as resident performing artist at the University of Chicago for seventeen years.

Artist Videos

Anthony McGill Live at the High Line Nine Gallery

Pacifica Quartet Plays Beethoven String Quartet No. 6, Op. 18