They have been praised for combining “ technical expertise and emotional fire.” The Washington Post calls them simply “a marvelous ensemble.” Following a contemporary music concert at Rice University, the Houston Post stated, “The Blair String Quartet is a composer’s dream.” Widely acclaimed in performances across the country, the Quartet has enhanced its national reputation through appearances at the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, New York’s 92nd Street Y and Merkin Concert Hall. In April of 2012 the Blair Quartet will perform at Weill Hall in New York City, which will include a premiere of Michael Hersch’s quartet, Images from a Closed Ward. Some of their residencies have been at the Aspen Music Festival, the Sedona Chamber Music Festival, and Dartmouth College, as well as appearances at the Colorado Music Festival, the Meadowmount School of Music, the Sewanee Music Festival, Music Mountain in Connecticut and the Maverick Concert Series in Woodstock, New York. They have been the Quartet-in-Residence for the Classical Fellowship Awards competition of the American Pianists Association, and the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.
The Blair Quartet has performed widely on National Public Radio and was featured for a number of years on a public television series called “Recital Hall.” The ensemble’s recordings have been praised internationally by such publications as Gramophone, Stereo Review, American Record Guide, and the BBC Music Magazine. They have recorded for labels such as Warner Brothers and New World Records, and Naxos Records recently released the Blair Quartet’s recording of the String Quartets of Charles Ives. The recording has been widely praised in reviews and was the selected CD Of The Month by Naxos Records.
Well known as interpreters of the standard repertoire, the Blair Quartet has also championed music by contemporary American composers, including works written for them by George Tsontakis, Morton Subotnick, Ellsworth Milburn, Michael Alec Rose, Rodney Lister, and Michael Kurek. The ensemble has worked with many outstanding composers, including Elliott Carter, Alan Hovhaness, John Harbison, George Rochberg, Ezra Laderman, Leon Kirchner, Steven Mackey, Steven Stucky, Joan Tower, and Robert Sirota. The Quintet for Banjo and String Quartet, composed for them by Edgar Meyer and Bela Fleck, has been featured nationally on the PBS series, Lonesome Pine Special, and remains in their touring repertoire.
The Blair Quartet has presented cycles of the complete quartets of Beethoven and Bartok. The group has appeared with many renowned artists including pianists Leon Fleisher, Lee Luvisi, Rolf Gothoni, David Owen Norris, Christopher Taylor, and Frederic Chiu, clarinetist David Krakauer, violinists Robert Mann and Joseph Silverstein, violists Walter Trampler and Samuel Rhodes, cellist Norman Fischer; bassist Edgar Meyer; and virtuoso of the banjo, Bela Fleck. The Blair Quartet has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Southern Arts Federation, the Tennessee Arts Commission and Chamber Music America’s C. Michael Paul Residency Program. The Blair String Quartet is in residence at the Blair School of Music of Vanderbilt University. The members of the ensemble are Stephen Miahky and Cornelia Heard, violins, John Kochanowski, viola, and Felix Wang, cello.