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Ensemble-in-Residence: The St. Lawrence String Quartet

The SLSQ: From left to right, Mark Fewer, second violin; Lesley Robertson, viola; Geoff Nuttall, first violin, and Christopher Constanza, cello.

Photo: Eric Cheng

The internationally acclaimed and award-winning St. Lawrence String Quartet is the ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University.

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 in January 2009. In 2012, the quartet joined forces with the San Francisco Symphony to premiere yet another work that Adams composed with the SLSQ in mind. In 2011, SLSQ premiered Qohelet, a new work by Osvaldo Golijov, also composed for them.

The SLSQ maintains a busy touring schedule. Some recent season highlights included performances of Absolute Jest with the New World Symphony and the London Symphony (with John Adams conducting), as well as Qohelet at Carnegie Hall and recitals in Columbus, Calgary, Houston, Iowa City, Miami, Philadelphia, Toronto, Durham, and other locations, plus a visit to Seoul, South Korea. During the summer season, SLSQ is proud to continue its long association with the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC.

In 2009, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the quartet’s founding in Canada, the SLSQ commissioned five Canadian composers and performed their work across the country. They also have active working relationships with numerous other composers, including R. Murray Schafer, Christos Hatzis, Ezequiel Viñao, Jonathan Berger, Ka Nin Chan, Roberto Sierra, and Mark Applebaum. The SLSQ has served on Stanford’s Department of Music faculty and as the University’s Ensemble-in-Residence since 1998.

First violinist and founding member Geoff Nuttall began playing the violin at the age of eight after moving to London, Ontario, from Texas. Violist and founding member Lesley Robertson began her training in Canada and met Nuttall in 1980. Cellist Christopher Costanza joined the ensemble in 2003 after performing for many years with the Chicago String Quartet. The newest member of the quartet is violinist Mark Fewer, originally from Newfoundland. He made his debut as a member of the SLSQ in 2014.

ST. LAWRENCE STRING QUARTET AT STANFORD

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Last modified on: 
Thursday, July 24, 2014