Top US string quartet replaces two players

Top US string quartet replaces two players


norman lebrecht

May 26, 2017

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.)



  • boringfileclerk says:

    Hopefully the replacements can play more in tune than their predecessors. I wish the latest iteration of the quartet the very best.

  • Rgiarola says:

    I saw the headlines of this news and i was in shock! Two members of Emerson were changed? Thanks God it was just my lack of competence to get the eloquence of the beautifull english of the headlines. Shame on me!

  • Jewelyard says:

    Who and who?????

  • Shankha Mitra says:

    Hey don’t make fun of them. My son will have Sibbi as his new teacher at Oberlin.

  • Qwerty1234 says:

    Guy Ben-Ziony is without a doubt one of the finest violists I know of in the European scene! Congrats to both!

  • Yuan says:

    Who is the replacement for Simin Ganatra?

    • Sarah Kapustin says:

      Simin decided to stay after all and announced it publicly months ago. Norman is not up to date on this and therefore his post is misleading….

  • Alexander Platt says:

    That’s really funny because the Pacifica Quartet, with all four of its original members, just played at my chamber music series two weeks ago, and gave a brilliant, flawless performance for a capacity crowd. Yes, we knew that two of them were moving on after a quarter-century of wonderful work, but no tension whatsoever was sensed in their performances.

    • MacroV says:

      No tension perhaps because there might not be any. A couple members decided they want to do something else, perhaps because they’ve been doing this for a long time. Hopefully they’re all parting as friends.

    • Ross says:

      They weren’t original members.
      Only the first violinist and cellist are original. The two departing musicians both joined an established quartet.

    • Andrew says:

      Thank you for this comment. The Pacifica members have been wonderful mentors and colleagues, and I wish the quartet all the best in their new configuration.

  • Lin says:

    They are playing in Australia for the Music Viva International season later this year….wonder if performances will be affected

  • Saxon Broken says:

    If three members of a quartet leave, can it really be said to be the same quartet?

  • Plush says:

    Now they cancelled 5 concerts at the 2017 Ravinia Festival. They did the same thing last year. They were going to play the same program. All Beethoven Quartets.