Brooklyn Rider

String Quartet

Johnny Gandelsman
Colin Jacobsen
Nicholas Cords
Michael Nicolas
Go to Biography


“The first movement of the quartet Death and the Maiden revealed an exceptional string quartet composed of outstanding musicians who delivered a truly masterful chamber music performance that set the tone for the rest of the concert.” (April 2022)
The name Brooklyn Rider is inspired by the artist group The Blue Rider, which published an eclectic almanac of artwork, essays and music that served as an artistic testament to their time while offering a vision for the future and an open embrace of diverse artistic traditions, media, and aesthetics.

Hailed as “the future of chamber music” (Strings), the String Quartet Brooklyn Rider presents eclectic repertoire and gripping performances that continue to draw rave reviews from Classical, World, and Rock critics alike. NPR credits Brooklyn Rider with “recreating the 300-year-old form of string quartet as a vital and creative 21st-century ensemble.”

In 2020 Brooklyn Rider presented the project Healing Modes, which takes a holistic view of Beethoven's Op. 132 combined with five commissioned works by Reena Esmail, Gabriela Lena Frank, Matana Roberts and the two Pulitzer Prize winners Caroline Shaw and Du Yun. They explore the theme of healing from a variety of historical and cultural perspectives - a topic that could not have been more relevant within the events of 2020 & 2021. In March 2020 the New Yorker praised the concept of the recording as convincing and the playing of the four as persuasive.
„So the journey goes, from Beethoven to the modern day and back again; a choice that could well have been disastrous were it not for the masterful curation and impeccable execution of each work by Brooklyn Rider.”Sydney Morning Herald, April 2021
In 2019 two albums - featuring instrumentalists who are at the forefront of their respective genre: jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman ("Sun On Sand") and Irish fiddle master Martin Hayes ("The Butterfly") - were released.
„The Butterfly […] finds itself woven into a stringed experiment of almost Schoenberg proportions, replete with muted dissonance and foreboding that one would never have dreamed could characterise this most delicate and sociable of tunes. And yet it works: boldly, gloriously even.”The Irish Times, August 2019
In fall 2018, Brooklyn Rider released Dreamers on Sony Music Masterworks with celebrated Mexican jazz vocalist Magos Herrera. The recording includes gems of the Ibero-American songbook as well as pieces written to texts by Octavio Paz, Rubén Darío, and Federico García Lorca — all reimagined by arrangers including Jaques Morelenbaum, Gonzalo Grau, Diego Schissi, Guillermo Klein and Brooklyn Rider’s own Colin Jacobsen.

In 2017/ 2018, Brooklyn Rider released Spontaneous Symbols. The album featured new quartet music by Tyondai Braxton, Evan Ziporyn, Paula Matthusen, Kyle Sanna, and Brooklyn Rider violinist Colin Jacobsen. Works from that recording were also featured in live performance for Some of a Thousand Words, the ensemble’s recent collaboration with choreographer Brian Brooks and former New York City Ballet prima ballerina Wendy Whelan. An intimate series of duets and solos in which the quartet’s live onstage music is a dynamic and central creative component, Some of a Thousand Words was featured at the 2016 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, before two U.S. tours, including a week-long run at New York City’s Joyce Theater.

In 2016 Brooklyn Rider released an album entitled so many things on Naïve Records with Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, comprising music by Colin Jacobsen, Caroline Shaw, John Adams, Nico Muhly, Björk, Sting, Kate Bush and Elvis Costello, among others. The group toured material from the album and more with von Otter in the U.S. and Europe, including stops at Carnegie Hall and the Opernhaus Zürich.

Additionally, Brooklyn Rider performed Philip Glass’s String Quartet #7, furthering a relationship with the iconic American composer which began with 2011’s much-praised Brooklyn Rider Plays Philip Glass and will continue with the upcoming album release of Glass’s recent quartets on the composer’s Orange Mountain Music label.

In 2015, the group celebrated its tenth anniversary with the groundbreaking multi-disciplinary project Brooklyn Rider Almanac, for which it recorded and toured 15 specially commissioned works, each inspired by a different artistic muse. Other recording projects include the quartet’s eclectic debut recording in 2008, Passport, followed by Dominant Curve in 2010, Seven Steps in 2012, and A Walking Fire in 2013. In 2016, they released The Fiction Issue with singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane, with the title track a Kahane composition that was premiered in 2012 at Carnegie Hall by Kahane, Brooklyn Rider and Shara Worden. A long-standing relationship between Brooklyn Rider and Iranian kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor resulted in the much-praised 2008 recording, Silent City.

With "The 4 Elements," Brooklyn Rider brings a theme to concert stages this season that could not be more timely: global warming and the destruction of our planet, which also serves as a wake-up call. Four existing works from the string quartet literature of the past 100 years - symbolic of the elements of fire, water, earth and air - will be joined by four new works by Akshaya Avril Tucker, Conrad Tao, Dan Trueman and Andreia Pinto Correia, which will reflect current realities.

On the European stages, the quartet will perform at the Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, the Flagey Brussels, the Liszt Academy Budapest, the Pierre Boulez Saal Berlin and the Heidelberger Fruehling, among others.

This biography is to be reproduced without any changes, omissions or additions, unless expressly authorized by artist management.
Contacts: Linda Uschinski (Department Head), Ramona Wiener



2024 / 2025
Upon one note
11.11.2024 - 27.11.2024
24.03.2025 - 13.04.2025

Mozart: String Quartet No. 19 in C major, K 465 “Dissonance”
Purcell: “Fantasia Upon one Note”
Betsy Jolas: String Quartet No. 3 “9 Etudes”
Arvo Pärt: Solfeggio
Brahms: String Quartet No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 51 No. 1


The foundational frequency of the string quartet is the note C, the enveloping lowest open strings of the viola and cello. Upon One Note explores a group of ingenious works revolving around C; from Mozart’s wildly inventive “Dissonance” Quartet to Betsy Jolas’ musings on the building blocks of the string quartet to the otherworldly soundscape of Pärt to Brahms’ swirling masterpiece. Not to be left out, the audience will collectively embody the C, joining Brooklyn Rider in Purcell’s magical Fantasia Upon One Note.

Chalk & Soot
Brooklyn Rider & Ariadne Greif
11.11.2024 - 27.11.2024
24.03.2025 - 13.04.2025

The Brooklyn Rider Alamanac: four short works for string quartet by Clarice Assad, Gabriel Kahane, Giovanni Sollima, and Tyshawn Sorey
Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 2 in F-sharp minor, Op. 10
Colin Jacobsen: Chalk and Soot


Inspired by the pioneering artistic spirit of Der Blaue Reiter, a pre-WW1 era collective with the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky at the helm, this program serves as an ode to Brooklyn Rider’s very namesake. The Brooklyn Rider Almanac is a century-long nod to the 1912 publication of Der Blaue Reiter Almanach, comprised of brand new works by four visionary musicians in Brooklyn Rider’s creative orbit. The German premiere (1911) of Arnold Schoenberg’s tonality-shattering String Quartet No. 2, Op 10 (with soprano) was heard by Kandinsky himself, sparking a friendship between these two kindred artistic spirits that led to Schoenberg’s inclusion in Der Blaue Reiter. Brooklyn Rider’s own Colin Jacobsen binds together past and present through his extended song cycle Chalk and Soot, built upon Dada-inspired text written by Kandinsky himself and featuring the highly versatile and mesmerizing American soprano Ariadne Greif.

2023 / 2024
The Four Elements
September 2023

The program deals with the four classical elements. Four works symbolic of earth, air, fire and water, composed in the 20th century, which was marked by accelerated and unprecedented planetary changes. In contrast, there are four entirely new works that reflect current realities and serve as a musical call to action.


Fire: Dimitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110

& co-commissioned work by Akshaya Avril Tucker

Water: Osvaldo Golijov: Tenebrae

& co-commissioned work by Conrad Tao

Earth: Ruth Crawford Seeger: Suite of American Folk Songs (arr. Colin Jacobsen)

& co-commissioned work by Dan Trueman

Air: Henri Dutilleux: String Quartet “Ainsi la nuit“

& co-commissioned work by Andreia Pinto Correia

Sandbox of Invention: An ode to the String Quartet
Spring 2024

Juxtaposing beloved and familiar works with the new and unknown, Brooklyn Rider explores a boundless sandbox of musical creativity, dialogue, and play; the medium of the string quartet itself! Beginning with one of the prototypical jewels of the classical era, Haydn’s C major score, chock-full of pioneering inventiveness, radiates with an enduring love for the genre. The program segues from the veritable father of the string quartet to a highly anticipated new chapter of the Brooklyn Rider Almanac. In part inspired by Der Blaue Reiter (the quartet’s namesake), this celebration of the project’s tenth anniversary adds to a diverse and novel body of works penned by luminous musical creators from the jazz, folk, and indie rock worlds. Next, Sofia Gubaidulina paints an otherworldly sound gate to the baroque, paving the way for Schumann’s earthy string quartet in A minor. Utterly individual in its conception, this masterful work came forth after a period studying the counterpoint of perhaps the greatest musical inventor of them all; J.S. Bach.


Haydn: String Quartet in C major, Op. 20, “Sun”, No. 2, Hob.III:32

Various: The Brooklyn Rider Almanac, Book II

Gubaidulina: Reflections on the Theme B-A-C-H

Schumann: String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op 41

with Magos Herrera & Mathias Künzli
Summer 2023

These days, when even the term “dreamers” is disputed territory, celebrating beauty is a political act. That is the beating heart of Dreamers, the collaboration between Magos Herrera and the string quartet Brooklyn Rider. The program, includes gems of the Ibero-American songbook as well as pieces written to texts by Octavio Paz, Rubén Darío, and Federico García Lorca — all reimagined by a superb group of arrangers including Jaques Morelenbaum, Gonzalo Grau, Diego Schissi, Guillermo Klein and Brooklyn Rider’s own Colin Jacobsen.

The connecting thread is that the poets and songwriters featured on Dreamers came from places that have endured brutal state violence. Consider Violeta Parra, from Chile; João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, from Brazil; Gustavo “Cuchi” Leguizamón, from Argentina, García Lorca, Spain and poet, essayist and Nobel Prize winner, Octavio Paz.

Dreamers is a reminder that beauty can come out of terrible situations. As Leonard Bernstein said, “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before”.


19:30 Uhr
DE / Berlin - Pierre Boulez Saal
Brooklyn Rider, Kinan Azmeh, Mathias Kunzli
20:00 Uhr
DE / Ludwigsburg - Scala
Brooklyn Rider, Kinan Azmeh, Mathias Kunzli
20:00 Uhr
DE / Düsseldorf - Tonhalle
Brooklyn Rider
20:00 Uhr
TK / Istanbul - Rahmi Koc Museum
Brooklyn Rider, Avi Avital
19:30 Uhr
GB / London III - Wigmore Hall
Brooklyn Rider


The Butterfly

Maghera Mountain
O'Neill's March
Jenny's Welcome Home to Charlie
The Butterfly
Bob and Bernie
Ship in Full Sail
Drunken Sailor
Port Na bPúcaí
An Rogaire Dubh
P.Joe's Reel
Hole in the Hedge


De Manhã
Volver a los 17
Milonga Gris
La Aurora de Nueva York
Eu Vim Da Bahía
Coração Vagabundo
Tú y Yo
La Llorona
Luz de Luna

Magos Herrera - Voice

Philip Glass: String Quartets Nos. 6 and 7
Philip Glass
Saxophone Quartet (1995) - Arranged By Brooklyn Rider
String Quartet No. 6 (2013)
String Quartet No. 7 (2014)

So Many Things

Kate Bush: Pi
John Adams: Am I In Your Light?
Caroline Shaw: Cant Voi l'Aube
Colin Jacobsen: For Sixty Cents
Björk: Cover Me
Nicol Muhly: So Many Things
Anders Hillborg: Kväll
Björk: Hunter
Brad Mehldau: Love Sublime
Elvis Costello: Speak Darkly, My Angel
Gordon Sumner, Robert Mathes: Practical Arrangement
Rufus Wainwright: Les Feux d'Artifice t'Appellent

Anne Sofie von Otter - Mezzo-soprano

The Fiction Issue

Gabriel Kahane, Matthew Zapruder:
The Fiction Issue
Bradbury Studies
Come On All You Ghosts

Magdeburg Music, 2016

The Brooklyn Rider Almanac

Necessary Henry
Maintenance Music
Simpson's Gap
The Haring Escape
Show Me
Dig The Say
Quartet, Parts One & Two
Morris Dance
Five-Legged Cat
Ping Pong Fumble Thaw
John Steinbeck

A Walking Fire
The Game
The Muse
The Song (For Romica Puceanu)
Love Potion, Expired

Béla Bartók
String Quartet No. 2, Sz. 67
Allegro Molto Capriccioso

Colin Jacobsen
Three Miniatures For String Quartet
Majnum's Moonshine
The Flowers Of Esfahan
A Walking Fire

Seven Steps
Brooklyn Rider
Seven Steps
Together Into This Unknowable Night

Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet No. 14 In C-sharp minor, Op. 131
I. Adagio Ma Non Troppo E Molto Espressivo
II. Allegro Molto Vivace
III. Allegro Moderato
IV. Andante Ma Non Troppo E Molto Cantabile - Andante Moderato E Lusinghiero - Adagio - Allegretto - Adagio Ma Non Troppo E Semplice
V. Presto
VI. Adagio Quasi Un Poco Andante
VII. Allegro

Brooklyn Rider Plays Philip Glass
Philip Glass
Suite from "Bent" for String Quartet
String Quartet No. 3 (Mishima)
(1957: Award Montage; November 25 - Ichigaya; Grandmother And Kimitake; 1962: Body Building; Blood Oath; Mishima / Closing)
String Quartet No. 1
String Quartet No. 4 (Buczak)
String Quartet No. 2 (Company)
String Quartet No. 5

Dominant Curve
Colin Jacobsen
Achille's Heel (2009)
Lydia's Reflection
Second Bounce
Shur Landing

Shakuhachi – Kojiro Umezaki
(Cycles) What Falls Must Rise (2009)

Claude Debussy
String Quartet In G minor, Op. 10
I. Animé Et Très Décidé
II. Assez Vif Bien Rytmé
III. Andantino Doucement Expressif
IV. Très Modéré - Très Mouvementé Et Avec Passion

Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky
....Al Niente (2009)

John Cage
In A Landscape (1948)

Silent City

Ascending Bird
Silent City
Beloved, Do Not Let Me Be Discouraged


Vagharshabadi Dance
Harvest Song
It's Cloudy
Festive Song
The Partridge
La Muerte Chiquita


Brooklyn Rider - Philip Glass Quartet Satz
Brooklyn Rider - Live at Fraser


Linda Uschinski (Department Head)
t: +49 (0)30 414 781 717
f: +49 (0)30 414 781 713
Ramona Wiener
t: +49 (0)30 414 781 723
f: +49 (0)30 414 781 713