St. Lawrence Quartet

St. Lawrence Quartet

The St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ) has established itself among the world-class chamber ensembles of its generation. Its mission: bring every piece of music to the audience in vivid color, with pronounced communication and teamwork, and great respect to the composer. Since winning both the Banff International String Quartet Competition and Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1992, the quartet has delighted audiences with its spontaneous, passionate, and dynamic performances. Alex Ross of The New Yorker magazine writes, "the St. Lawrence are remarkable not simply for the quality of their music making, exalted as it is, but for the joy they take in the act of connection."

Whether playing Haydn or premiering a new work, the SLSQ has a rare ability to bring audiences to rapt attention. They reveal surprising nuances in familiar repertoire and illuminate the works of some of today’s most celebrated composers, often all in the course of one evening. John Adams was inspired to write works expressly for the quartet after hearing them in concert. His “String Quartet,” written for the SLSQ, was premiered by the quartet in January 2009.

In 2012, the quartet joined forces with the San Francisco Symphony to premiere yet another work Adams composed with the SLSQ in mind. In spring 2011, they premiered a new work by Osvaldo Golijov, also composed for them. The Golijov work (co-commissioned by Stanford Lively Arts and Carnegie Hall) is expected to build on the success of their previous collaboration, which culminated in the twice-Grammy-nominated SLSQ recording of the composer’s Yiddishbbuk (EMI) 2002.

SLSQ maintains a busy touring schedule. Recent seasons have included trips to Europe with concerts in England (Wigmore Hall and the Barbican in London), Germany, Belgium, Italy, Holland, Finland and Estonia. Within the past two years, the quartet has toured New Zealand and Australia, and has performed in Seoul, South Korea. In North America, SLSQ regularly performs in Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Denver, Durham (Duke University), SanDiego/La Jolla, and Philadelphia in addition to concerts in North Carolina, Georgia, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Florida, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma. During the summer season SLSQ is proud to continue its long association with the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC.

Among the composers whose works the quartet premiered within the past four years are John Adams ("String Quartet," premiered January 2009 - and later recorded for Nonesuch - and "Absolute Jest" for solo string quartet and orchestra, with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, in May 2012), Ezequiel Viñao (premiered December 2009), Osvaldo Golijov, David Bruce (for clarinet and string quartet, commissioned by Carnegie Hall), and Canadian composers Derek Charke, Suzanne Hebert-Tremblay, Brian Current, Elizabeth Raum, and Marcus Goddard, each representing a different region of Canada. Other collaborations by the group with composers have included R. Murray Schafer (first performance of his String Quartet 3, in 1994, and of his "Four-Forty" in 2002), Jonathan Berger (premiere of "Miracles and Mud," 2001, "Doubles," and "The Bridal Canopy," 2008), Christos Hatzis ("Awakenings," May 2005), and Roberto Sierra ("Songs from the Diaspora," February 2007). They also have active working relationships with numerous other composers, including Samuel Carl Adams, R. Murray Schafer, Ka Nin Chan, Roberto Sierra, and Mark Applebaum.

Since 1998 the SLSQ has held the position of Ensemble in Residence at Stanford University. This residency includes working with music students as well as extensive collaborations with other faculty and departments using music to explore a myriad of topics. Recent collaborations have involved the School of Medicine, School of Education, and the Law School. In addition to their appointment at Stanford, the SLSQ are visiting artists at the University of Toronto. The foursome's passion for opening up musical arenas to players and listeners alike is evident in their annual summer chamber music seminar at Stanford and their many forays into the depths of musical meaning with preeminent music educator Robert Kapilow.

Violist Lesley Robertson is a founding member of the group, and hails from Edmonton Alberta. Cellist Christopher Costanza is from Utica, NY and joined the quartet in 2003. Violinists Geoff Nuttall and Scott St. John both grew up in London Ontario; Geoff is a founding member and Scott joined in 2006. Depending on concert repertoire, the two alternate the role of first violin. All four members of the quartet live and teach at Stanford, in the Bay Area of California.

The Quartet has recorded four CDs for EMI (including quartets by Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Shostakovich, and Golijov's Yiddishbuk). The SLSQ can also be heard on the Nonesuch, ArtistShare, and Naxos labels.

Read more about St. Lawrence Quartet:  Members

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