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Bright Sheng with the Emerson Quartet after the world premiere in Stony Brook, New York October 18th, 2007

String Quartet No. 5 "Miraculous" (2007)

Program Note

STRING QUARTET No. 5 “The Miraculous”, written between March and July, 2007, was co-commissioned for the Emerson String Quartet by the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stanford University, and the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan. It was premiered by the Emerson String Quartet on October 18th, 2007. The work is dedicated to the Emerson String Quartet.

The subtitle of String Quartet No. 5, “The Miraculous,” is inspired by two sources. Firstly, it is quite unusual to hear a string quartet in which each member is not only a splendid virtuoso, but also a passionate and superb musician. That was the thought went through my mind when I first heard them in the summer of 1983 at Aspen Music Festival where I was a student, new in this country. Throughout its two-and-half decades, the Emerson’s performances have become greatly more profound; yet they have not lost any of their passion and virtuosity.

String Quartet No. 5 is based on two very different musical motifs, like two strangers from different cultural backgrounds who meet and become fast lovers. Throughout their courtship, neither of them changes but they get to know and understand each other on a much deeper level. Most importantly, they learn to happily live with each other.

—Bright Sheng