The Del Sol Quartet is a string quartet based in San Francisco, California that was founded in 1992. Del Sol is known for actively working with living composers from a wide range of cultural perspectives, and recording and performing exclusively 20th and 21st century music.
Del Sol has commissioned and premiered hundreds of works from a diverse range of international composers, including Frederic Rzewski, Mason Bates, Gabriela Lena Frank, Huang Ruo, Michael Harrison, Ben Johnston, Chinary Ung, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Kui Dong, Mohammed Fairouz, Theresa Wong, Erberk Eryilmaz, Tania León, Ken Ueno, Peter Sculthorpe, Pamela Z, Reza Vali, Per Nørgård, and many more.
Current quartet members are Benjamin Kreith (violin), Samuel Weiser (violin), Charlton Lee (viola), and Kathryn Bates (cello).
Founded in 1992, the Del Sol String Quartet began its life in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts, followed by residency at San Francisco State University in association with the Alexander String Quartet. Del Sol rose to international attention with the release of its 2002 CD, Tear. Del Sol was named winner of the Chamber Ensemble/Mixed Repertory category for 2005-2006 by Chamber Music America and ASCAP, and also received an ASCAP award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary MusicOther early appointments included the 2003 "Emerging Quartets and Composers Residency" with the Muir String Quartet and Joan Tower in Park City, Utah; Quartet-in-Residence at University of New Mexico; residencies at The Walden School and Tahoe Music Festival; and Northeastern University in 2007. Del Sol appears on programs presented by Other Minds, San Francisco Performances, Montalvo Arts Center and Santa Fe New Music/Santa Fe Opera. (from website)
For more than two decades, the quartet has given lectures/performances by invitation from presenters including the San Francisco Symphony Adventures in Music series, San Francisco Libraries, Music at Kohl Mansion, Young Audiences of the Bay Area, American Composers Forum and San Francisco Performances, the City's largest independent concert presenter. To date, Del Sol has performed over 300 concerts for more than 30,000 young people.
Del Sol has released nine full-length CDs since 2002, that reflect the ensemble's fascination with the intersection of place and culture, garnering praise from New York Times, Gramophone, The Strad, Chamber Music, BBC Music Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle and others. Its latest CD, "Dark Queen Mantra" (2017) features a world premiere recording of Terry Riley's new piece "Dark Queen Mantra" for electric guitar and string quartet, with guitarist Gyan Riley. Other albums include:
"Zia" takes its name from the Zia Indians' ancient symbol for the sacred sun, with arms radiating outward in four directions - north, south, east and west - which captures the adventurous spirit and global perspective of this recording. Released by GRAMMY® Award-winning Sono Luminus Records in February 2013, ZIA showcases fascinating contemporary works with influences from Peru, Turkey, Spain, Iran and Uzbekistan. The five composers represented on the album - Gabriela Lena Frank, Lou Harrison, Reza Vali, Jose Evangelista and Elena Kats-Chernin - all trained in the Western European tradition, reach back to ancient and traditional folk music sources and cultures in creating vibrant new music for string quartet. Producers Marina A. Ledin & Victor Ledin received a 2014 GRAMMY® nomination for Producer of the Year - Classical for their work on ZIA and other albums.
This recording is the definitive recording of the composer and has sparked a revival of interest in his chamber works
, This recording features a noteworthy rendition of Ástor Piazzolla's Libertango," as well as music by Lou Harrison, Earle Brown, Silvestre Revueltas, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Alberto Ginastera, and John Harbison.
The quartet demonstrates a particular interest in string quartet writing in just intonation, particularly in the work of American composer Ben Johnston, along with composers such as Michael Harrison, Theresa Wong and Mathew Rosenblum. They are currently the only string quartet touring multiple quartets by Ben Johnston, which are notoriously difficult, and were the first group to premiere Johnston's music at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C in 2016. In 2019, the quartet launched the "Pacific Pythagorean Music Festival," San Francisco's first music festival dedicated to works of just intonation. They were highlighted performers at the Pittsburgh "Beyond 2020: Microtonal Music Festival".