Founded in Chicago in 1997 under the mentorship of Marc Johnson, cellist of the Vermeer Quartet, Fry Street received rave reviews as prizewinners in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Yellow Springs Competition, and the Banff International String Quartet Competition. The quartet traveled to Israel to participate in the International Encounters Chamber Music Seminar in 2000, where they studied with Isaac Stern. He invited the quartet to the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshop in New York City, and subsequently arranged for the quartet's Carnegie Hall debut in 2001.
The Quartet's early years were also defined by a three-year "Rural Residency" in Hickory, NC, sponsored by Chamber Music America and the National Endowment for the Arts. It was during this period that the quartet cut its teeth winning competitions, building a local audience for the first time, and becoming relevant to the community with its powerful music making. The FSQ is proud that the residency in Hickory continues today, supported entirely by the community.
The FSQ began its international career as cultural ambassadors to the Balkan States, sponsored by Carnegie Hall and the U.S. Department of State. This tour featured the European debut of J. Mark Scearce's Y2K, commissioned for Fry Street with a grant from Meet the Composer. Subsequent international appearances include the ProQuartet Academy at Pont-Royal, France, the Prague Chamber Festival and Trutnov Autumn Festival in the Czech Republic, Kulturvereinigung Oberschützen in Austria, three visits to the Oficina de Musica de Curitiba, Brazil, and a tour to the United Kingdom.
A defining endeavor was the quartet's first complete Beethoven Quartet Cycle. "These works put players to the test in terms of interpretation, technique and musicianship. And the Fry Street Quartet made it look easy. They exhibited the highest standards of their craft both weekends. Solid technique, wonderful musicality and fabulous artistry combined to make the six concerts they played special. The Fry Street Quartet is without question to be reckoned with among today's quartets. It has arrived" (Deseret News). A sold-out event with pre-concert lectures by renowned scholar Robert Winter, the Cycle was presented at Utah State University over the course of two weeks, offering the audience a true immersion into the world of Beethoven.
The quartet created an innovative series called From Prodigy to Master, pairing early and late works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn with engaging modern compositions inspired by these masters of the quartet genre. Modern works included complete string quartets of Benjamin Britten, as well as a world premiere of st qt, dedicated to Fry Street by composer Thomas McFaul.
In 2002, the Fry Street Quartet was appointed Quartet in Residence at Utah State University, with major support from the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation. The members of the quartet set out to build a performance-based approach to the existing string program, largely still in its infancy. Today, the landscape is much transformed. What was once a very small program is now a vibrant center for string performance in the intermountain region; what was an emerging group of performers is now an established and internationally recognized ensemble; what was a collection of artistic departments is now a College in its own right. In 2012, the quartet residency at USU was endowed by Dan C. and Manon Caine Russell.