JACK Quartet—an ensemble featuring Bienen School of Music alumni violinist Austin Wulliman (G08), along with violinist Christopher Otto, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell—has won a $25,000 Avery Fisher Career Grant.
Administered by the Avery Fisher Artist Program, the prestigious grant provides professional assistance and recognition to talented instrumentalists who have great potential for major careers. According to press release from the quartet, the prize money will be used to fund JACK’s Fulcrum Project, a new initiative that seeks to broaden their community of collaborators and increase institutional access for artists.
Other Avery Fisher Career Grant winners for 2019 include violinist Angelo Xiang Yu, pianist Henry Kramer, and a piano duo of Christina and Michelle Naughton. Dover Quartet – Bienen School Quartet-in-Residence – received the Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2017.
JACK Quartet most recently appeared at the Bienen School of Music in April 2018 for the third Northwestern University New Music Conference (NUNC! 3).
Wulliman studied violin with Bienen School faculty member Blair Milton. He has been praised as a “gifted, adventuresome violinist” by the Chicago Tribune and as a “remarkable, unbelievable violinist/violist extraordinaire” by the syndicated radio program Relevant Tones. He first forged his reputation in Chicago with the collective Ensemble Dal Niente, serving as the group’s program director, and winning the Kranichstein Music Prize (the grand prize for interpretation) at the Darmstadt Summer Course in 2012. He was also a founding member of Spektral Quartet.
Consistently in search of new musical pathways through ensemble work, Wulliman has collaborated with a wide range of musical voices, from artists like Deerhoof and Julia Holter, to Miguel Zenon and Billy Childs, or Brian Ferneyhough and Kaija Saariaho. He has also been a guest artist with groups such as Eighth Blackbird, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNow Ensemble. His debut solo release Diligence Is to Magic as Progress Is to Flight was released in 2014 in collaboration with bassoonist/composer Katherine Young.
Deemed "superheroes of the new music world" (Boston Globe), the JACK Quartet is "the go-to quartet for contemporary music, tying impeccable musicianship to intellectual ferocity and a take-no-prisoners sense of commitment." (Washington Post) "They are a musical vehicle of choice to the next great composers who walk among us." (Toronto Star)
The recipient of Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award, New Music USA's Trailblazer Award, and the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, JACK was also recently named Musical America’s 2019 Ensemble of the Year. The quartet will take up residency at the Mannes School of Music at the New School starting in fall 2019.
JACK is focused on new work, leading them to collaborate with composers John Luther Adams, Chaya Czernowin, Simon Steen-Andersen, Caroline Shaw, Helmut Lachenmann, Steve Reich, Matthias Pintscher, and John Zorn. Upcoming and recent premieres include works by Derek Bermel, Cenk Ergün, Roger Reynolds, Toby Twining, and Georg Friedrich Haas. JACK operates as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, commissioning, and spread of new string quartet music.