Cellist David Finckel Announces Plans to Leave Emerson String Quartet
Paul Watkins will step in after 2012-1013 season
After more than thirty years as cellist of the Emerson String Quartet, one of the world's premier chamber ensembles, David Finckel has announced that he will depart at the close of the ensemble's 2012-2013 season to explore new projects and artistic opportunities. He will be succeeded in the Emerson Quartet by the eminent British cellist Paul Watkins.
No specific reason was stated, but in recent months, Finckel has becoming increasingly busy with his work as co-director of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, his Music@Menlo festival and chamber institute, and as an organizer of chamber-music series i South Korea and throughout the United States.
As a member of the quartet since 1979, David Finckel has toured the world over performing in the most prestigious concert halls and at leading festivals. In addition, he has collaborated in concerts and on recordings with some of the greatest artists of our time.
The Emersons have amassed an impressive list of achievements over the three decades that Finckel has been with the ensemble, releasing more than 30 acclaimed recordings since 1987, and winning nine Grammy Awards, three Gramophone Awards, and the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.
In a statement issued on February 14, Finckel commented:
"During the past year, after much soul searching, I came to the realization that it would be sensible to make the 2012-13 season my last in the Emerson String Quartet. My colleagues of 33 years have been extremely understanding of my desire to pursue, with greater energy, my increasing number of performing, educational and presenting commitments that are independent of the quartet. My heavy heart is warmed by the knowledge that Paul Watkins's enormous gifts as a cellist and musician will fuel the Emerson's onward journey with vibrant energy and fresh perspectives. I could not be happier to see him take my chair, nor can I wait to hear how marvelous the quartet will sound in its new incarnation. While I will forever treasure the rich network of friendships and experiences I have enjoyed as a member of the Emerson Quartet, I am equally excited for the opportunities that await me in the next chapter of my artistic and professional life."
In a separate joint statement the remaining three members—Eugene Drucker, Philip Setzer and Lawrence Dutton—stated:
“For more than thirty years we have worked intensively with David Finckel, sharing countless personal and musical experiences. Our collegial feelings toward this marvelous cellist are mingled with awe and admiration for his manifold talents as a chamber music player, soloist and artistic director of two major presenting organizations and a recording company. Anyone who comes into contact with David must be struck by his unflagging energy, insatiable appetite for work and astonishing ability to manage his time (without which his three parallel careers would be impossible). His passionate, uncompromising commitment to our art could serve as a beacon to those who have lost their way in these economically and culturally disorienting times.
"The impending departure of such an extraordinary colleague has given us a chance to reassess our goals and articulate a new vision for the future of the Emerson String Quartet.
"It is only fitting that David's successor be a multi-talented musician, an accomplished conductor as well as an outstanding soloist and experienced chamber music player. In Paul Watkins, we three upper string players of the ESQ will continue to find a source of inspiration. Since Paul is almost two decades younger than the rest of us, we see his coming both as an opportunity to reaffirm and renew our commitment to the musical values we have long held dear, and as a chance to ensure the continuation of the Emerson String Quartet beyond the participation of any individual member.”