C-U quartet receives congratulations after winning 2009 Grammy Award

By Emily Herbick

Upon arrival back to campus, the University’s Grammy-winning Pacifica Quartet was bombarded with congratulatory phone calls, e-mails and meetings.

Last week the group won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance for its recording of Elliot Carter’s String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5.

“It’s a real thrill,” said Brandon Vamos, Pacifica Quartet member. “It’s so nice that so many people have been so enthusiastic and so supportive. We feel so appreciative to all the people out there who are sending us e-mails and phone calls.”

The ensemble members, including Vamos, the cellist; Sibbi Bernhardsson and Simin Ganatra, the violinists; and Masumi Rostad, the viola player, are also faculty members in the School of Music who are returning to campus after a two week European tour that ended right before the Grammys.

“We want to savor the moment right now and get back to work,” Vamos said.

The group has won awards before, but this is the most well-known award they have won.

“It was a great feeling because it was something that we didn’t really expect to happen,” Rostad said. “It was nice to get recognition for something we’ve worked really hard on.”

The group members have been busy conducting make-up classes and rehearsing for their concert that took place Friday night at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Rostad said.

Bernhardsson said that the reaction from the community has been great and that the students and the School of Music are excited about the group’s win.

“It’s such a supportive community here at the University of Illinois, and we really are just happy to be a part of that,” he said.

Bernhardsson said the group is still waiting for the Grammy statues to be sent via mail and does not have definite plans for where they will keep them.

“I have a great place right next to my toilet at home that I got all ready for it,” joked Vamos.

The group is back to work and is gearing up for a musical festival it is scheduled to play in next week in Australia.

“We’re still plugging away,” Rostad said. “We’re making a living, continuing our spree around the world, having fun playing string quartets.”

As for future projects, Pacifica Quartet will be playing the complete collection of Felix Mendelssohn’s quartets to celebrate his 200th birthday.

“It’s really amazing to do something that you love and be able to make a living doing it, and to have people want to share that,” Rostad said.