Esmé Quartet

At home in Germany, the Esmé Quartet is one of the most dynamic and multi-faceted string quartets of its generation, winning audiences and reviewers over with its infectious energy and immaculate ensemble playing. The four South Korean musicians’ ensemble was the first all-female string quartet to win the first prize and four special prizes, including the Mozart and the Beethoven Prize, at the 2018 International String Quartet Competition at London’s Wigmore Hall: a sensational launch of an international string quartet career.

This great success in competition also proved the springboard for worldwide concert activities, ranging from the USA to Europe’s great musical centres and all the way to Asia, where they were celebrated during a prestigious residency at Seoul’s Lotte Concert Hall during the past season. Furthermore, innumerable concert tours and guest appearances have taken the Esmé Quartet to festivals and concert halls such as the Lucerne Festival, the Verbier Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Flagey Musiq3 Festival in Brussels, L’Auditori in Barcelona, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Heidelberg String Quartet Fest and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. In the summer of 2018, they were also the Quartet in Residence at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and appeared at the McGill International String Quartet Academy in Montreal.

In 2019, the Esmé Quartet became HSBC Winner of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, also taking first prize at the 55th Possehl Music Prize in Lübeck. Its debut CD, featuring works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Unsuk Chin and Frank Bridge and released in early 2020 by Alpha Classics, won a 5-star review from Diapason d’Or and was named one of the best classical albums of 2020 by WQXR Radio in New York. In October of that year, the Esmé Quartet also received the Hans Gál Prize of the German Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz and the Villa Musica Foundation.

Future highlights of the 2022/23 season include extensive tours of America and Japan as well as (re-)invitations to London’s Wigmore Hall, Stuttgart’s Liederhalle and the Teatro Vittoria in Turin, in addition to three concerts at the 2023 Hong Kong Arts Festival, where one evening features the solo concerto Absolute Jest for string quartet and orchestra by John Adams, accompanied by the venerable Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

The four musicians, who are bound by many years of friendship, studied with Heime Müller (Artemis Quartet) in Lübeck and are currently studying with Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet) in Hanover. They also received important artistic impulses from Günter Pichler (Alban Berg Quartet), Alfred Brendel, Eberhard Feltz, András Keller (Keller Quartet), Christoph Poppen and Jonathan Brown (Cuarteto Casals). In its concerts, the Esmé Quartet, whose name is derived from medieval French and means “beloved”, is celebrated for its spellbinding dynamics, stylistically assured interpretations and perfect ensemble playing, which has also aroused the interest of many renowned guest artists – as demonstrated most recently by their collaboration with Eckart Runge, the long-time cellist of the Artemis Quartet.