The Alexander String Quartet (= ASQ) was formed in New York City in 1981. The ASQ captured international attention in 1985 as the first American Quartet to win the London International String Quartet Competition, receiving both the jury’s highest award and the Audience Prize. Critically acclaimed debuts in New York City and London established the ASQ as one of chamber music’s most compelling ensembles.
The ASQ’s annual calendar of concerts continues to include engagements at major halls throughout North America and Europe. The ASQ has appeared at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street “Y,” the Metropolitan Museum and Merkin Concert Hall in New York City, Jordan Hall in Boston, the Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC, and for major chamber music societies and leading universities across the North American continent. Recent European tours have featured performances in Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France and Greece. The ASQ visited the Philippines in the Spring of 1998 as members of San Francisco mayor Willie Brown's Cultural and Trade Mission to Manila. The ASQ returned to the Netherlands in April 2000 for the 15th re-engagement in Amsterdam's Concertgebow as well as to the UK, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Georgia, Germany and Switzerland.
When they are not on tour, the members of the ASQ reside in San Francisco where, since 1989, they have been Directors of the Morrison Chamber Music Center’s Instructional Program at San Francisco State University and Ensemble-in-Residence with San Francisco Performances. The ASQ also holds visiting residencies at Baruch College of the City University of New York, St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. In May of 1995, Allegheny College awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees to the members of the ASQ in recognition of their unique contribution to the arts.
Committed to the creation and performance of contemporary music, the ASQ has commissioned nearly two dozen works by several Bay Area Composers. Among the most recently permièred are String Quartets, Nos. 2 and 3 by Pulitzer Prize-winner Wayne Peterson, a new work by Richard Festinger, Southern Girl by Chinese-American composer, Gang Situ, and Among Friends, a Koussevitzky commission by Robert Greenberg. The ASQ premièred a new work entitled E=MC2 by composer David Sheinfeld, conducted by Maestro Kent Nagano with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in February 1998.Forthcoming premières include new works from He-Kyung Kim and Ross Bauer. The ASQ has also frequently been heard in collaboration with guest artists including Menahem Pressler, Gary Graffman, William Ransom, James Tocco, Eli Eban, Joan-Enric Llunas, Charles Neidich, Richard Stolzman, Sadao Harada, and Elly Ameling.
In December 1995, The ASQ was invited to record the complete L.v. Beethoven quartet cycle for BMG's new Munich-based label, Arte Nova Classics. These releases which have received rave reviews are currently available in boxed format throughout Europe and the USA. In October 1996, Foghorn Records released the ASQ’s recordings of Johannes Brahms and Mozart clarinet quintets.