Based in Bloomington, Indiana, the Pacifica Quartet is a leading American chamber ensemble. The quartet has emphasized the performance of complete cycles of chamber music by several composers.
The Pacifica Quartet was formed in southern California in 1994. Its original members were violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violist Kathryn Lockwood, and cellist Brandon Vamos; as of 2019 the group included Ganatra, Vamos, violinist Austin Harman, and violist Mark Holloway. The Pacifica Quartet won a Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1998 and several other awards that propelled the players to a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2006. The group was featured on the cover of Gramophone magazine that year as one of five new string quartets worthy of attention, and in 2009 they were named ensemble of the year by Musical America. The Pacifica Quartet has specialized in quartet cycles by Beethoven, Shostakovich, Mendelssohn, and Elliott Carter, often performing them over just a few days in impressive feats of endurance and concentration. These concerts have taken place in major venues worldwide; the Carter set was performed over three nights at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. The group has appeared on chamber music series across North America, often championing contemporary music. They have premiered quartets by Keeril Makan and Shulamit Ran. The Pacifica Quartet was on the faculty of the University of Illinois from 2003 to 2012 and now teaches at the University of Indiana as well as heading the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at the Aspen Music Festival and School. The quartet has made more than 15 recordings, mostly for the Naxos and Cedille labels. For Hyperion, in 2015, they made an acclaimed recording of Leo Ornstein's rare and difficult piano quintet with pianist Marc-André Hamelin. The Pacifica Quartet was heard in 2019 with guitarist Sharon Isbin on the album Souvenirs of Spain & Italy, on Cedille.