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Emerging String Quartet Program

Omer String Quartet
Omer, Winter 2019 Emerging String Quartet

Program Description

The St. Lawrence String Quartet — whose ongoing exploration of nontraditional venues and new audiences was developed, in part, by early community outreach opportunities — observed a need for similar training programs for the next generation of emerging artists. In response to this need, the SLSQ developed the Emerging String Quartet Program (ESQP).

The ESQP is a workshop focused on community outreach for young professional musicians, in which emerging ensembles are invited to Stanford for a residency of one to two weeks. During the residency, the musicians receive coaching from the SLSQ and experience an intense schedule performing both on- and off- campus for a variety of schools, community groups and Silicon Valley businesses. The musicians, already highly accomplished presenters and performers, are provided rare opportunities to interact with the audiences to develop both their skills as performers and as community builders.

Since the program launched in 2009, the greater Stanford community has benefited from the electricity, passion and excellence of these extraordinary young ensembles while the musicians have gained valuable experience presenting to a wide variety of audiences in a short period of time. The ensembles have gone on to develop rich connections with their communities both in the U.S. and abroad.

On-campus venues have included the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, libraries, medical facilities, and research labs, as well as graduate and undergraduate dorms. Each emerging quartet is presented in one formal recital at Campbell Recital Hall, an event that is free and open to the public. Beginning in 2013 the SLSQ and ESQP began presenting Azure Family Concerts, performing music programs for families with children and young adults on the Autism spectrum.

Watch this page for news about the spring 2019 Emerging String Quartet.  

Make a gift to support the Emerging String Quartet Program.

Winter 2019

Omer String Quartet

Comprising violinists Mason Yu and Erica Tursi, violist Jinsun Hong, and cellist Alex Cox, the Omer Quartet is a leader among today’s young string quartets. Most recently first prizewinners of the Young Concert Artists Auditions, the quartet came into prominence in 2013 when it received Grand Prize and gold medal at the Fischoff National Competition. Since then, they received top prize at the XI Premio Paolo Borciani Competition in Italy, second prize at the Trondheim Competition in Norway, and special prize at the Bordeaux International Competition in France. The quartet makes its debuts next season in the Peter Jay Sharp Concert of YCA in New York at Merkin Concert Hall as well as in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center.  

The quartet has performed with internationally renowned artists such as Kim Kashkashian, Clive Greensmith, Eugene Drucker, Cho-Liang Lin, the Assad Brothers, the Borromeo String Quartet, and collaborated with composers such as Sean Shepherd and Perry Goldstein. They were invited to the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, McGill International String Quartet Academy, the Ravinia Steans Institute, and the Perlman Music Program. They have also served on the faculty of New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School. During the summer of 2018, the Omer Quartet will serve as Chamber Ensemble in Residence at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival.

Fall 2018

Puck Quartet

The Puck Quartet, drawing inspiration from their mischievous Shakespearean namesake, seeks to bring a capricious spirit and evocative language to music. Formed by chance in 2013 at Purchase College Conservatory of Music, they discovered a shared passion and sense of humor in their approach to chamber music, and have been performing together ever since.

In 2016, the Puck Quartet was selected to participate in the St. Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar, and was invited to perform in their International Showcase at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University. In past years, the quartet has participated in the Robert Mann String Quartet Institute at the Manhattan School of Music and the Beethoven Institute at Mannes, and was the featured artist of the inaugural concert of the “Under the Spire” concert series in Southport, Connecticut. In 2014, supported by an award from the Marx Family Foundation, Puck gave the world premiere performance of “Ascension”, a new work by composer Jason Eckardt. The Puck Quartet has participated in masterclasses with the Decoda Chamber Ensemble as well as with members of the American, Brentano, and Orion String Quartets, , including a live-streamed master class with the Miro Quartet at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Upcoming engagements include a feature concert at the Rhinebeck Chamber Music Society with clarinetist Sebastian Lambertz, and the premiere of a new work by composer Nick Virzi.

Spring 2018


Described by one pretty important radio guy as “not classical...but not not classical," invoke continues to successfully dodge even the most valiant attempts at genre classification. The band’s other not-nots encompass traditions from across America, including bluegrass, Appalachian fiddle tunes, jazz, and minimalism. invoke weaves all of these traditions together to create truly unique contemporary repertoire, written by and for the group.

invoke’s 2015 debut release “Souls in the Mud” begins with original works that conjure images of America, including the fast-paced opening track Travesty and The Trace (inspired by bourbon whiskey). The third and title track, Souls in the Mud, is an American transformation of a 16th century motet featuring banjo, mandolin and a bluegrass-influenced boot-stompin’ finale. The EP is rounded out by invoke accompanying a historic recording of a haunting traditional English ballad and two compositions by prolific American composer Danny Clay.

Currently Young Professional String Quartet in Residence at the University of Texas at Austin, invoke has also been selected as Artists in Residence at Strathmore, the Emerging Young Artist Quartet at Interlochen, and the Fellowship String Quartet at Wintergreen Performing Arts. In 2016, the band received First Prize in the Savvy Musician in ACTION Chamber Competition, and was chosen as Finalist in the Concert Artist Guild Competition.

ESQP Events

The Puck Quartet

Benjamin Britten (1913–1976): Three Divertimenti for string quartet (1936)
  I. March
  II. Waltz
  II. Burlesque

Maurice Ravel (1875–1937): String Quartet in F major (1903)
  I. Allegro moderato. Très doux
  II. Assez vif. Très rythmé
  III. Très lent
  IV. Vif et agité

Friday, October 5, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Campbell Recital Hall


More information:

See free events at Stanford on our Outreach page.

Donate to support the ESQP here.

Summary of ESQP Site Visits

  • AltSchool Palo Alto
  • Beechwood Elementary School
  • Boys and Girls Club of East Palo Alto
  • Bing Nursery School, Stanford
  • Bowman International School
  • California School for the Blind
  • Campbell Recital Hall, Stanford
  • Castilleja School
  • Cesar Chavez Middle School
  • Channing House
  • Children’s Library, City of Palo Alto
  • Connect Community Charter School
  • Costano Elementary School
  • The Crowden School
  • CCRMA, Stanford University 
    (hosted by Jonathan Berger)
  • East Palo Alto Library
  • Facebook
  • Garfield Middle School
  • Geology Corner, Stanford
  • Genentech
  • GetInsured
  • Girls' Middle School
  • Google
  • Green Oaks Academy
  • Gunn High School
  • Harker School
  • House Concert 
    (hosted by Christine McLeavey )
  • International School of the Peninsula
  • iSing
  • Kimball Dorm, Stanford
  • Kiwanis Club of Palo Alto
  • Know Knew Books
  • LinkedIn
  • Los Robles Magnet Academy, East Palo Alto
  • Lyman Graduate Dorm, Stanford
  • Masterclass, Stanford Chamber Music Program
  • McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, Stanford
  • Meyer Sound Laboratories
  • MPCC Divorce & Relationship Recovery Group
  • Music 23 class, Stanford 
    (hosted by Tayla Berger)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • Nixon School
  • Nueva School
  • Oak Knoll Elementary School
  • Ohlone Elementary School
  • Ormondale School
  • PACO (Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra)
  • Palo Alto Visually Impaired Program
  • Ponderosa Elementary School
  • San Francisco County Jail
  • SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Smule
  • Toyon Hall Undergraduate Dorm, Stanford
  • Veterans Affairs Medical System
  • Vi Senior Living
  • Youthspace LGBTQ San Jose

"Seeing the immediate impact that the music of Schubert, Beethoven, or even Golijov has on scientists from SLAC or the families at the Azure Concert heightens our understanding of the uniting power of this eternal music. We've come to realize as a result of our experience with the SLSQ and Stanford that we have a passion for reaching audiences beyond those of the concert hall. Sharing our passion for our art form with those who might not otherwise have the chance to experience it, will be an integral part of our mission moving forward."

– The Calidore Quartet

Emerging Quartets 2009-2016

 Aeolus Quartet

Praised by Strad Magazine for their “high-octane” performance, the Aeolus Quartet (ESQP 2013) is among the finest young string quartets performing today. Violinists Nicholas Tavani and Rachel Shapiro, violist Gregory Luce, and cellist Alan Richardson formed the Aeolus Quartet in 2008 at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Since its inception, the all-American quartet has been awarded prizes at nearly every major competition in the United States and performed across the globe with showings “worthy of a major-league quartet” (Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News). Luke Quinton of the Austin-American Statesman writes, “The Aeolus Quartet is a powerful and thoughtful group of young musicians who are plotting an ascending course…this vibrant group shows great promise.” They are currently the Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School. 



 The Afiara Quartet

The dynamic Afiara Quartet (ESQP 2013, 2009) has been described as “a revelation” (La Presse), with performances balancing “intensity and commitment” and “frequent moments of tenderness” (Montréal Gazette). The Quartet is the Glenn Gould School Fellowship Quartet-in-Residence at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music and is the winner of the Young Canadian Musicians Award, Concert Artist Guild International Competition in New York, and top prizes at the Munich ARD and Banff International String Quartet Competitions, including the latter's Szekely Prize for the best interpretation of Beethoven. As an ensemble for the 21st century, the Afiara seeks to be a string quartet defined by its pursuit of beauty, meaning, and growth as musicians and ambassadors for its genre.


Praised for their “beautiful sound” (Beijing Global Times) the Arneis Quartet (ESQP 2011) is proving to be one of the finest emerging ensembles of its generation. “As a relatively young quartet, they have already achieved something it often takes years to develop:  a unique, collective sound which is as warm and full of sparkle as liquid gold.” (Boston Musical Intelligencer) Playfully named after the Arneis grape—a varietal that is difficult to grow, but which yields an exquisite white wine— the Boston-based quartet was hand-picked by the St. Lawrence String Quartet for its inaugural John Lad Prize, which included debuts on the Stanford University Lively Arts series and Music on Main in Vancouver.

 The Calidore String Quartet

The Calidore String Quartet (ESQP 2016, 2014; John Lad Prize 2015), Described as “the epitome of confidence and finesse” (Gramophone Magazine) and “a miracle of unified thought” (La Presse, Montreal), the Calidore String Quartet has established an international reputation for its informed, polished, and passionate performances. The Calidore String Quartet is currently artists-in-residence and visiting faculty at Stony Brook University (SUNY) and was appointed to the prestigious roster of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Two for the 2016- 2019 seasons. The Calidore String Quartet won grand prizes in virtually all the major U.S. chamber music competitions, including the Fischoff, Coleman, Chesapeake, and Yellow Springs competitions and captured top prizes at the 2012 ARD Munich International String Quartet Competition, and Hamburg International Chamber Music Competition. 

Taking their name from St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, the Cecilia String Quartet (ESQP 2015, 2010) continue to win praise following their 2010 First Prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC). “The balance between expressiveness and interplay was almost dauntingly perfect,” wrote the Berliner Zeitung after a performance in the Konzerthaus Berlin. European tours have taken the four Toronto-based Canadian musicians to the Concertgebouw Kleine Zaal (Amsterdam), Beethoven-Haus (Bonn), Wigmore Hall (London), and venues in Italy and Belgium.


Hailed as "Fresh and youthful sounding” by The Washington Post, the, Excelsa Quartet (ESQP 2014) was recently appointed University of Maryland’s Graduate Fellowship String Quartet for 2013-2016. The Quartet was formed in January of 2009 at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.  They were asked to continue their studies with Isabel Charisius and Sebastian Hamann at the Konservatorium Dreilinden in Luzern, where they completed a Masters’ Degree in Chamber Music.  The musicians were First Prize winners of "The Provincie Limburg Prijs" along with the “EMCY Artprize” at the Charles Hennen 26th International Chamber Music Competition for Strings in The Netherlands.  

 The Friction Quartet

The Friction Quartet (ESQP 2015), whose performances have been called “terribly beautiful” (San Francisco Classical Voice), “stunningly passionate” (Calgary Herald) and “chillingly effective” (San Francisco Examiner), exists to expand the string quartet repertoire and audience for adventurous contemporary music.  Joshua Kosman (San Francisco Chronicle) declared that Friction Quartet is “an artist who should be discovered” and described their performance as “high-octane music making…a fine blend of rhythmic ferocity and tonal flair.” John Adams shared Friction’s video of the second movement of his first string quartet on Facebook and Twitter and called it “spectacular.”



The 2016 First Prize winner of the prestigious Banff International String Quartet Competition, the Rolston String Quartet (ESQP 2017; John Lad Prize 2016) was named among the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s 2016 “30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30.” The Calgary Herald says they “played affectionately, shifted colours with the mood of every phrase, and showed a caramel blend in tone that only makes you want to hear more.” A winner of Astral’s 2016 National Auditions and the 2016 John Lad Prize, the quartet was also the Grand Prize winner of the Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition and a prizewinner at the inaugural M-Prize competition and the Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition. 


The Telegraph Quartet (ESQP 2016) was formed in September 2013 in San Francisco and shortly after their inception won the prestigious Grand Prize in the international Fischoff Chamber Music Competition (May 2014). The quartet was selected to be one of the Shouse Institute Ensembles, at the Great Lakes Music Festival, directed by Paul Katz, for the summer of 2014. Our 2014/15 season highlights include a three-concert series at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a residency with San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music’s Presidio Concert Series, and a feature as guest ensemble for the opening concerts at Kneisel Hall Music Festival.





Praised for their “superb capacity to find the inner heart of everything they play, regardless of era, style or technical demand” (The International Review of Music), the Tesla Quartet (ESQP 2017; John Lad Prize 2017) brings refinement and prowess to both new and established repertoire. Dubbed “technically superb” by The Strad, the Tesla Quartet recently took Second Prize as well as the Haydn Prize and Canadian Commission Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition. The quartet has also garnered top prizes at numerous other international competitions, including the Gold Medal at the 2012 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, Third Prize and the Best Interpretation of the Commissioned Work at the 6th International Joseph Haydn Chamber Music Competition in Vienna, and Third Prize at the 2012 London International String Quartet Competition. The London Evening Standard called their rendition of the Debussy Quartet “a subtly coloured performance that balanced confidently between intimacy and extraversion.” 



Praised for their “emotional investment” and “decisive” interpretations (Toronto Star) and “intense” and “hot-blooded” performances (Globe and Mail), the Tokai Quartet (ESQP 2010) is one of Canada’s leading string quartets. In September 2007, the quartet became prizewinners at the Banff International String Quartet Competition, the first Canadian group to do so since 1992. The vibrancy that this exciting young ensemble brings to their performances is gaining them enthusiastic audiences across Canada, and has earned the Tokai Quartet a growing demand for performances at concert series across the country.  


The Emerging String Quartet Program was funded with a generous seed grant from the Hewlett Foundation. The St. Lawrence String Quartet is sponsored by the Stanford Department of Music, the Office of the Vice President for the Arts, and the Friends of Music at Stanford, with special thanks to Peter and Helen Bing, Joan and Philip Leighton, and Persis Drell and James Welch.