The Pacifica Quartet has been going through uncertain times since first violinist Simin Ganatra quit eleven months ago. Two others took academic posts. Violinist Sibbi Bernhardsson joined Oberlin Conservatory and violist Masumi Per Rosta signed on at the Eastman School in Rochester.
That left the quartet clinging by its teeth.
Today, it replaced Bernhardsson with Austin Hartman and Rostad with violist Guy Ben-Ziony (pictured).
Ben-Ziony said: ‘I think almost every violist has a secret dream from early on to become a quartet player, and I’m no exception.’
UPDATE: It’s slightly more complicated. Here’s a message from their PR:
Simin announced she was leaving last June but changed plans.
That decision last June was made by Simin to better balance the pressures of intense travel on the well-being of her two young daughters. Having lived with this decision for about five months while Simin continued to tour full-time with the Pacifica, Simin and Brandon – her husband and cellist in the Quartet – came up with a plan that allowed Simin to continue in her role as first violinist. (i.e: reliable, long-term childcare support and creative tour routing.)
Over the winter, Oberlin contacted Sibbi Bernhardsson. Gregory Fulkerson, a professor of violin for 35 years at the school was retiring at the end of the academic year. (Fulkerson happens to have been a chamber music coach to Sibbi when he was a young student.) For Sibbi, the unexpected offer to join the faculty was especially timely: this position would allow him to spend more time with his family; he has two very young children. At Oberlin, he could continue teaching which has long been a passion. Sibbi has a strong connection to the Conservatory; he graduated from the conservatory in ’95.
Sibbi informed the Pacifica that he would be accepting the position at Oberlin and would be leaving at the end of the season, following their Beethoven cycle at Ravinia (5 concerts, Sept. 1-3). This news naturally led all the members in the ensemble to examine how best to move forward. Just a few weeks later, Eastman contacted (violist) Masumi Per Rostad about a faculty opening. It was very serendipitous. Masumi decided to pursue the opportunity and accept the position after 17 years on the road with the Pacifica. He and his wife Sonia (a pianist) will relocate to Rochester, NY. (Masumi is originally from New York City.)