Admired for her intensity and the beauty of her sound, Laurie Smukler is an artist who is active as soloist and recitalist. Growing up in Cleveland, she began her studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, with pedagogue Margaret Randall. She started performing early, winning local competitions, and playing as soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra at the age of fourteen. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Juilliard School where she studied with Ivan Galamian.
As the original and founding first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, she spent eight years traveling and performing internationally with them. With her husband, violist Ira Weller, she directed and performed in the respected series "The Collection in Concert," at the Pierpont Morgan Library. She has performed and toured as the first violinist of two school affiliated string quartets, the Bard Festival String Quartet and the Purchase Faculty String Quartet.
Dedicated to teaching as well as to performing, Laurie Smukler is a respected member of the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, Bard College, and the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival and School. She spent 17 years as a professor of violin and chamber music at Purchase College Conservatory of Music, ten of those years as Head of the String Department. She has been an invited guest at many summer festivals, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Marlboro Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, Bard Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Music Mountain, and the Mount Desert Island Festival. She has a particular interest in contemporary music, premiering works by many composers including Ned Rorem, Morton Subotnik, Steven Paulus, Shulamit Ran, and Bruce Adolphe. Ms. Smukler plays a Petrus Guarnerius violin made in Venice in 1738.
For more than 35 years, cellist Joel Krosnick has performed as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician all over the world. As a member of the Juilliard String Quartet since 1974, he has performed the great quartet literature throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He has recorded the complete quartets of Beethoven, Bartók, Schoenberg, Janacek, Hindemith, and Brahms, as well as the last 10 quartets of Mozart, four quartets of Elliott Carter, and works of Haydn, Debussy, Ravel, Dutilleux, Berg, Smetana, Franck, Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, Verdi, Sibelius, Bach, Roger Sessions, Donald Martino, and Stefan Wolpe. In 2008, also as a member of the Juilliard String Quartet, Mr. Krosnick was awarded the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award by Chamber Music America.
Joel Krosnick was born in Connecticut to a family of enthusiastic amateur musicians; his mother was a pianist and his father was a violinist/doctor. Mr. Krosnick completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia College, where he began his lifelong commitment to contemporary music. While studying at the College, he became involved with living composers and new music, and eventually became a founding member of the Group for Contemporary Music. Mr. Krosnick has taught the cello and chamber music since his earliest professional life. He has held professorships at the Universities of Iowa and Massachusetts, and was artist-in-residence at the California Institute of the Arts. Since 1974, he has been on the faculty of the Juilliard School, where, since 1994, he has served as chairman of the cello department.
Mr. Krosnick is a recipient of the Chevalier du Violoncelle Award from the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center at the Indiana University School of Music. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from Michigan State University, Jacksonville University, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. As a member of the Juilliard String Quartet, he has received numerous Grammy nominations, twice winning the Grammy Award (for the complete Schoenberg quartets and the late quartets of Beethoven). His discs, In the Shadow of World War I and In the Shadow of World War II, with his sonata partner Gilbert Kalish, won Indie Awards. The duo's recording of the Brahms sonatas won the Classical Recording Foundation Award. Joel Krosnick has recorded for the Sony Classical, Nonesuch, Orion, CRI, New World, Koch International, CP2, and Arabesque Labels.
Shulamit Ran, a native of Israel, began setting Hebrew poetry to music at the age of seven. By nine she was studying composition and piano with some of Israel's most noted musicians, including composers Alexander Boskovich and Paul Ben-Haim, and within a few years she was having her works performed by professional musicians and orchestras. Ran continued her composition studies in the United States with Norman Dello-Joio. In 1973 she joined the faculty of University of Chicago, where she is now the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music. She lists her late colleague and friend Ralph Shapey, with whom she also studied in 1977, as an important mentor.
Her music has been played by leading performing organizations including the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, The Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Baltimore Symphony, the National Symphony, Contempo, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Jerusalem Orchestra, the vocal ensemble Chanticleer, and many others. Between 1990 and 1997 she was Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Between 1994 and 1997 she was the fifth Brena and Lee Freeman Sr. Composer-in-Residence with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where her residency culminated in the performance of her first opera, Between Two Worlds (The Dybbuk).
Ran served as Music Director of Tempus Fugit, the International Biennial for Contemporary Music in Israel in 1996, 1998, and 2000. Since 2002 she has been the Artistic Director of Contempo at the University of Chicago. Shulamit Ran is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, where she completed a 3-year term as Vice President for Music, and of the American Academy of Arts and Science. Her works are published by Theodore Presser Company and by the Israeli Music Institute and recorded on more than a dozen different labels.