I must address a quote that was attributed to me in the Nov. 18 Boston Sunday Globe front-page story on the Harlem Quartet, an admirable article in most other ways (“Four dependent parts, one giant hole”). I am quoted as saying that the Harlem Quartet did not play as well as other quartets, but that I chose them for New England Conservatory’s Professional String Quartet Program because I was excited that they were a minority group. This statement is a composite of two unrelated thoughts expressed in an interview several minutes apart, but combined in the article into a single paragraph.
This is what happened:
The selection of the Harlem Quartet was made by a distinguished jury of seven, not by me alone. The ensemble’s 45-minute audition truly excited the jury, which agreed unanimously that the Harlem Quartet was not only the best quartet to audition, but that it was gifted and deserving.
My comment that the players needed to work on their “technical level of mastery” was not comparing them to groups that they had competed with, and was unrelated to the selection process. My comment that “I got excited because I thought of what they could do for their own people” comes from another part of the interview.
Joining those two thoughts changes the meaning of what I said, and demeans the clear excellence of the Harlem Quartet — four gifted, deserving, and accomplished players.