Banff International String Quartet Festival Concert 5

(clockwise from top left:) Ema Nikolovska, New Orford String Quartet, Gilles Vonsattel, Joel Quarrington

BISQFest 2023 Concert 5 featuring:

New Orford String Quartet
Franz Schubert: String Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D. 887
     Allegro molto moderato
     Andante un poco moto
     Scherzo Allegro vivace – Trio. Allegretto
     Allegro assai


Ema Nikolovska, mezzo-soprano
Gilles Vonsattel, piano
Franz Schubert
Liebesbotschaft from Schwanengesang, D. 957
Daß sie hier gewesen, Op. 59, No. 2, D. 775
Auf dem Wasser zu singen, Op. 72, D. 774
Liebhaber in allen Gestalten, D. 558

Die Forelle, Op. 32, D. 550

Andrew Wan, violin
Sharon Wei, viola
Brian Manker, cello
Joel Quarrington, bass
Gilles Vonsattel, piano
Franz Schubert: Piano Quintet in A Major, D. 667, The Trout Quintet
     Allegro vivace
     Scherzo: Presto
     Andantino - Allegretto
     Allegro gusto


View Translations


Ema Nikolovska

Noted for her exceptional communication and dramatic skill across a broad range of repertoire, Ema Nikolovska was born in North Macedonia and grew up in Toronto where she studied voice with Helga Tucker and completed her undergraduate degree in violin at The Glenn Gould School. She received her Masters in Voice at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, where she also completed the Opera Course.

In Autumn 2020 she joined the International Opera Studio of the Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden where performance highlights include Henze’s Cubana, Christian Jost’s Die Arabische, and a role debut as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier.

A prolific concert artist, Ema Nikolovska has given critically acclaimed performances at the Berlin Konzerthaus, Pierre Boulez Saal, Wigmore Hall, Verbier Festival, and Toronto Summer Music Festival collaborating with Malcolm Martineau, Wolfram Rieger, Graham Johnson, Sir András Schiff, James Baillieu, Jonathan Ware, Joseph Middleton, Kunal Lahiry, Steven Philcox, and Barry Shiffman among many others.

Ema Nikolovska is wearing a black top, red scarf and red beret, and smiling at the camera

New Orford String Quartet

Jonathan Crow, violin
Andrew Wan, violin
Sharon Wei, viola
Brian Manker, cello

Four musicians with equally stellar pedigrees formed the New Orford String Quartet with the goal of developing a new model for a touring string quartet. Their concept – to bring four elite orchestral leaders and soloists together on a regular basis over many years to perform chamber music at the highest level – has resulted in a quartet that maintains a remarkably fresh perspective while bringing a palpable sense of joy to each performance. The Toronto Star has described this outcome as “nothing short of electrifying.

The New Orford String Quartet has seen astonishing success, giving annual concerts for national CBC broadcast and receiving unanimous critical acclaim, including two Opus Awards for Concert of the Year, and a 2017 JUNO Award for Best Classical Album. Recent seasons have featured return engagements in Chicago, Montreal and Toronto, as well as their New York City debut on Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series.

The original Orford String Quartet gave its first public concert in 1965, and became one of the best-known and most illustrious chamber music ensembles. After more than 2,000 concerts on six continents, the Orford String Quartet gave its last concert in 1991. Two decades later, in July 2009, the New Orford String Quartet took up this mantle, giving its first concert for a sold-out audience at the Orford Arts Centre. The New Orford has since gone on to perform concerts throughout North America and lead residencies at the University of Toronto, Schulich School of Music, Mount Royal University, and Syracuse University. In September 2017 the Quartet became Ensemble in Residence at the University of Toronto, and was recently named Artistic Directors of the Prince Edward County Music Festival, where they made their curatorial debut in September 2018.

In 2011, the Quartet recorded its debut album of the final quartets of Schubert and Beethoven, released by Bridge Records to international acclaim. The recording was hailed as one of the top CDs of 2011 by La Presse and CBC In Concert and nominated for a JUNO Award in 2012. Critics have described the recording as “…flawless… a match made in heaven!” (Classical Music Sentinel); “a performance of rare intensity” (Audiophile Audition); and “nothing short of electrifying… listen and weep.” (The Toronto Star). Their follow-up album of the Brahms Op.51 Quartets was equally well-received, and received the 2017 JUNO for best chamber music album.

The New Orford is dedicated to promoting Canadian works, both new commissions and neglected repertoire from the previous century. New Orford String Quartet projects have included performances of major Canadian string quartets from the 20th century including works by Glenn Gould, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Jacques Hétu, R. Murray Schafer, and Claude Vivier, as well as commissions of new works from composers such as Francois Dompierre, Gary Kulesha, Airat Ichmouratov and Tim Brady. The Quartet thrives on exploring the rich chamber music repertoire; recent collaborations include those with pianists Marc-André Hamelin and Menahem Pressler.

The Quartet regularly tours in the major cities of North America, including Washington, D.C., Toronto, and Los Angeles; at the same time, the members feel strongly about bringing this music to areas that don’t often hear it, and as a result perform frequently in remote rural locations and smaller Canadian communities. The New Orford String Quartet are Artists-in-Residence at Western University in London, ON.

New Orford String Quartet, photo by Dahlia Katz

Gilles Vonsattel

Swiss-born American pianist Gilles Vonsattel is an artist of extraordinary versatility and originality. He is the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, winner of the Naumburg and Geneva competitions, and was selected for the 2016 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award. He has made appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, San Francisco Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg while performing recitals and chamber music at Ravinia, Tokyo’s Musashino Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Lucerne Festival, Bravo! Vail, Chamber Music Northwest, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Music@Menlo. Deeply committed to the performance of contemporary music, he has premiered numerous works both in the United States and Europe and has worked closely with numerous notable composers including Jörg Widmann, Heinz Holliger, Anthony Cheung, and George Benjamin. Recent projects include a performance of Carlos Chávez's Piano Concerto at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium with The Orchestra Now, a debut at Mostly Mozart, a critically acclaimed recording of music of Richard Strauss and Kurt Leimer with the Bern Symphony Orchestra and Mario Venzago for Schweizer Fonogramm, as well as multiple appearances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. During the summer of 2022, Vonsattel appeared at seven of the United States’ most prestigious chamber music festivals. An alum of CMS's Bowers Program, Vonsattel received his bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Columbia University and his master’s degree from the Juilliard School. He currently makes his home in New York City. Vonsattel is Professor of Piano at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and serves on the faculty of Bard College Conservatory of Music.

Gilles Vonsattel

Joel Quarrington

For over forty years, Joel Quarrington has served as the Principal Double Bassist for many orchestras including the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony, Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, and most recently the London Symphony Orchestra. Born in Toronto, Joel began his formal studies of the double bass when he was thirteen. He won the Geneva International Competition and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s National Talent Competition.

A devoted teacher, Joel is a professor at the Conservatoire de Musique of Montreal as well as being a “Visiting Artist” at the Royal Academy of Music and he holds annual masterclasses in the summers at Quebec's Orford Arts Centre. Joel has made several solo recordings, which have won both the prestigious JUNO and Opus Prizes. From the International Society of Bassists, Joel has received a Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Solo Performance and for Outstanding Orchestral Performance.

Headshot of Joel Quarrington, photo by Fred Cattroll