-Mark Swed, LA Times
-Chloe Cutts, The Strad
A unique and versatile cello quintet, hailed as “brilliant” and “superb” by Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times, SAKURA is built on the artistry and virtuosity of its members: Michael Kaufman, Benjamin Lash, Gabriel Martins, Yoshika Masuda, and Peter Myers. Drawing from the rich heritage of a repertoire that spans eight centuries, inventive programs are constructed around conceptual threads, with a commitment to opening new vistas of beauty and expression by showcasing the great warmth and scope of five cellos.
Performance highlights have included Brett Dean's Twelve Angry Men in Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, a world premiere of Thomas Mellan’s Concerto for Five Cellos with the USC Symphony, and concert appearances across the country. SAKURA was awarded two prestigious grants to commission new cello quintets: a Tarisio grant for five young American composers and a New Music USA grant for Donald Crockett. This season includes performances in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New Orleans. The quintet also serves as Young-Ensemble-in-Residence of the Da Camera Society.
SAKURA explores great music of the past through dazzling arrangements that offer fresh perspectives on familiar notes, and continually expands the five-cello repertoire into the future by commissioning new works. In the tradition of the great chamber ensembles, the quintet distills its interpretations through time, reveling in the pure sonic pleasure of a unified and colorful sound. Its name honors the great mentor and artist Ralph Kirshbaum, with whom all five members studied: sakura (桜) (Japanese) and Kirschbaum (German) have the same meaning: “cherry tree”, a plant whose flowers have five petals.