Intriguing programs of great beauty and breadth have distinguished the PRISM Quartet as one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. PRISM seeks to place the saxophone in unexpected contexts, chart fresh musical territory, and to challenge, inspire, and move audiences. “A bold ensemble that set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets” (The New York Times), PRISM was founded by students of the renowned Donald Sinta at the University of Michigan in 1984. Shortly after winning the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, PRISM was chosen by Musical America as “Outstanding Young Artists,” performed on Entertainment Tonight and National Public Radio’s “Performance Today,” and toured virtually every state in the U.S.
Two-time recipients of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, PRISM has performed in Carnegie Hall on the Making Music Series, in Alice Tully Hall with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and throughout Latin America, China, and Russia under the auspices of the United States Information Agency and USArtists International. PRISM has also been presented to critical acclaim as soloists with the Detroit Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, and conducted residencies at the nation’s leading conservatories, including the Curtis Institute of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory.
Champions of new music, PRISM has commissioned over 250 works, many by internationally celebrated composers, including Pulitzer Prize-winners Julia Wolfe, William Bolcom, Jennifer Higdon, Zhou Long, and Bernard Rands; MacArthur “Genius” Award recipients Bright Sheng and Miguel Zenón; Guggenheim Fellows William Albright, Martin Bresnick, Chen Yi, Lee Hyla, and Steven Mackey; and jazz masters Greg Osby, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Steve Lehman, and Dave Liebman. In 1997, PRISM initiated its own concert series, now in Philadelphia, New York City, and Ann Arbor, presenting the newest compositions created for the ensemble by composers from around the world.
PRISM’s discography is extensive, with releases on Albany, ECM, innova, Koch International, Naxos, New Dynamic, New Focus, and its own newly launched label, XAS Records (distributed by Naxos). PRISM may also be heard on the soundtrack of the filmTwo Plus One, by Emmy nominee Eugene Martin, scored by Quartet member Matthew Levy, and has been featured in the theme music to the weekly PBS news magazine “NOW.”
PRISM’s concert series and recordings feature a who’s who of contemporary music makers, including BMOP, Ethel, Sō Percussion, Talujon, Partch, Music From China, Opera Colorado, Cantori New York, Nick Didkovsky, Marilyn Nonken, and top jazz artists, including Jason Moran, Chris Potter, Ravi Coltrane, Tim Ries, Jay Anderson, Ben Monder, Bill Stewart, Gerald Cleaver, and John Riley. PRISM has also performed with The Crossing (choir), the New York Consort of Viols, the Chilean rock band Inti-Illimani, as well as Miro Dance Theatre, Nai Ni Chen Dance Company, and the Pennsylvania Ballet.
In 2016, the PRISM Quartet was named by its alma mater, the University of Michigan, as the first recipient of the Christopher Kendall Award in recognition of its work in “collaboration, entrepreneurship, and community engagement.”