In our current era, there are so many musical performers and artists that winning an award is an achievement all on its own. However, there is a musical group that has released more than 30 recordings and has won Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year,” three Gramophone Awards, nine Grammys and the Avery Fisher Prize, in addition to having worked with many different famous musical artists over the years. Have a guess at what group this may be?
If you guessed the Emerson String Quartet, then you guessed correctly. The Emerson String Quartet is one of the most acclaimed string quartets in the entire nation, even around the world, and the quartet itself resides at Stony Brook University. Many people, including students, do not know that we have a group as famous as the Emerson String Quartet based right on our campus, yet know in advance when every single basketball game this season will be even though the season has not even started.
The reason for this would be that the arts programs at SBU are not nearly as funded as the sports programs. The Staller Center for the Arts is able to function due to the philanthropy of many different families and people, while athletics programs continue to receive funding through the university and philanthropic donations. Take the new Stony Brook University Arena – which is currently undergoing a $21 million renovation – the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium or the Pritchard Gymnasium, all of which took a considerable amount of money to create, and still have money spent on their upkeep and maintenance. Or think about the amount of scholarships SBU awards for its 20 varsity sports, compared to the relatively small amount of scholarships awarded to musicians.
The art programs at SBU are extremely underrepresented; when was the last time you saw people handing out Frisbees with concert dates on them? I’ve already received four free Frisbees with the Stony Brook University football schedule, multiple emails about the football games, flyers for volleyball games and a card with the men’s basketball schedule, but have only seen one poster for an art course being offered at the Staller Center.
Perhaps more initiative is required on the behalf of the art programs, or maybe SBU requires more funding for these programs, or perhaps more publicity is needed to get more people interested in these programs. Whatever it may be, people need to know that SBU holds many award-winning performances at the school itself and there are many art and music courses offered should you have an interest in either of these fields.
On another note, if you would like to see the Emerson String Quartet, they will be at SBU three times over the next two semesters; they will be playing at the Staller Center on Oct. 17, March 24, 2014 and April 17, 2014. Remember, though, that not every neighborhood has a world-famous quartet in their backyard like we do.