Banff International String Quartet Festival Concert 7
BISQFest 2023 Concert 7 in memory of Geoff Nuttall (1965-2022), first violinist of St. Lawrence String Quartet.
New Orford String Quartet
Franz Joseph Haydn: The Seven Last Words of Christ
Introduction. Maestoso ed adagio
I. Largo (Vater, verzeihe ihnen; denn sie wissen nicht was sie tun)
II. Grave e cantabile (Wahrlich ich sage dir; heute wirst du mit mir im Paradiese sein)
III. Grave (Weib, siehe hier: Dein Sohn; und Du, siehe hier: Deine Mutter)
IV. Largo (Vater, Vater, warum hast du mich verlassen?)
V. Adagio (Ich durste)
VI. Lento (Es ist vollbracht)
VII. Largo (Vater, in Deine Hände empfehle ich meinen Geist)
Presto e con tutta la forza (Das Erdbeben)
Jonathan Schwarz, violin
Amelie Wallner, violin
Mayu Konoe, viola
Lukas Schwarz, cello
The string quartet, founded in Berlin in 2019, could hardly be described more aptly than in the review published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in January 2022.
The ensemble is framed by brothers Jonathan and Lukas Schwarz on 1st violin and cello, with Amelie Wallner on 2nd violin and Mayu Konoe on viola providing the middle voices. Leonkoro, in Esperanto: Lionheart, alludes not coincidentally to Astrid Lindgren's children's book about two brothers, a book that juxtaposes the grave fact of dying with a large and heartfelt portion of consolation - a meaning the quartet's music is also dedicated to in not a few places.
The year 2022 is a year of awards for the Leonkoro Quartet:
In March 2022, the ensemble was honored with the coveted and highly endowed Jürgen Ponto Foundation Music Prize which is awarded every two years to an outstanding string quartet.
In April 2022, the four musicians won 1st prize at the International String Quartet Competition at Wigmore Hall London and were also awarded 9 out of 12 special prizes. These included the prize for the best performance of a work from the 19th century, the Britten Pears Young Artists Programme Prize, the Leeds International Concert Series Prize and the Esterházy Foundation Prize.
In May 2022, the ensemble was awarded with the 1st prize at Quatuor à Bordeaux Competition. They were able to convince not only the top-class jury, but also the audience who awarded them the Audience Prize as well as the Young Audience Prize. At the end of the month, they were appointed to the prestigious BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists program, of which the quartet will be a part from 2022 - 2024.
This was followed by the MERITO String Quartet Award in November 2022. Unlike a classical competition, the five selected ensembles do not know that they will be evaluated by a jury - made up of renowned string quartet musicians - over the course of a year and will demonstrate their artistic level in concerts. The MERITO String Instrument Trust will support the ensemble for four years with among other things, a composition commission.
In the summer of 2021, the Leonkoro Quartet got off to a brilliant start on the international stage when it became the youngest formation to be awarded 2nd prize (the 1st prize was not awarded) and the coveted Audience Prize at the highly renowned international string quartet competition Premio Paolo Borciani. In the same year, the ensemble won 1st prize in the Chamber Music Competition of the Alice Samter Foundation and was awarded 2nd prize in the Ton und Erklärung competition of the Kulturkreis der Deutschen Wirtschaft.
In addition to studying chamber music with Heime Müller at the Musikhochschule Lübeck, the quartet has been studying with Günter Pichler (Primarius Alban Berg Quartet) at the Chamber Music Institute of the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía Madrid since 2020 with the generous support of Santander Consumer Bank AG.
The Leonkoro Quartet is fostered intensively by members of the Artemis Quartet at the Berlin University of the Arts. The four musicians received further artistic impulses from Alfred Brendel, Reinhard Göbel, Rainer Schmidt (Hagen Quartet), Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet) and Luc-Marie Aguera (Quatuor Ysaye).
During the 2022/2023 season, the Leonkoro Quartet will perform at venues including the Konzerthaus Berlin, CAPE Ettelbruck, Alte Oper Frankfurt, the VIBRE Festival in Bordeaux, the String Quartet Festival in Heidelberg and the Dresden Music Festival. In addition, the ensemble will begin its three-year residency in Leeds and will play two concerts at Esterhazy Castle.
The Leonkoro Quartet is a Pirastro Artist.
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.
Hao Zhou, violin
Lucy Wang, violin
Aiden Kane, viola
Tate Zawadiuk, cello
Praised for their “virtuosity, visceral expression, and rare unity of intention” (Boston Globe), the Viano Quartet are one of the most sought-after performing young ensembles today and currently in-residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Bowers Program from 2024-2027. Since winning First Prize at the 2019 Banff International String Quartet Competition, they have traveled to nearly every major city across the globe, captivating audiences in New York, London, Berlin, Vancouver, Paris, Beijing, Toronto, Lucerne, and Los Angeles.
The quartet was named the inaugural June Goldsmith Quartet-in-Residence for the Music in the Morning series in Vancouver until 2025, where their focus will be to commission new works and lead extensive community engagement initiatives. The quartet has also held residencies at the Curtis Institute, Colburn Conservatory, Northern Michigan University, and Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.
Summer 2023 brings re-invitations to Chamber Music Northwest, the Bravo!Vail Festival and BISQFest, along with appearances at the Intimacy of Creativity Festival in Hong Kong, Ottawa Chamberfest, Minnesota Beethoven Festival, Strings Music Festival, Highlands-Cashiers and Mt. Desert Festivals of Chamber Music, as well as Bay Chamber Concerts. During the 23/24 season the quartet can be heard in Canada, Arizona, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Utah, New York and California.
The quartet achieved incredible success in their formative years, with an unbroken streak of top prizes at major competitions. In addition to their career-defining achievement at the 2019 Banff International String Quartet Competition, they also received the Grand Prize at the 2019 ENKOR International Music Competition and second prize at the 2019 Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition. At the 2018 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition they received Third Prize, the Haydn Prize for the best performance of a Haydn quartet, and the Sidney Griller Award for the best performance of the compulsory work, Thomas Ades’ “The Four Quarters”. They received the Silver Medal at the 2018 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and Third Prize at the 9th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in 2017.
The Viano Quartet has collaborated with world-class musicians such as pianists Emanuel Ax, Marc-André Hamelin, Inon Barnatan and Elisso Virsaladze, violists Paul Coletti and Paul Neubauer, violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley, vocalist Hila Plitmann and clarinetist David Shifrin. Their chief mentors include faculty of the Curtis Institute and Colburn Conservatory, as well as members of the Dover, Guarneri, and Tokyo string quartets. Past summers have been spent at the Ravinia Steans Chamber Music Institute, the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar, the Festival d’Aix en Provence, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and the McGill International String Quartet Academy.
The name “Viano” was created to describe the four individual instruments in a string quartet interacting as one. Each of the four instruments begins with the letter “v”, and like a piano, all four string instruments together play both harmony and melody, creating a unified instrument called the “Viano”.
Alon Nashman is a creator, director and performer of theatre based in Tkaronto. Recent credits include directing Wajdi Mouawad’s Alphonse for tours to Ontario, BC and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and acting in The Breathing Hole (National Arts Centre); Birds of a Kind, Hirsch (Stratford Festival); Hamlet, All’s Well That Ends Well, Botticelli in the Fire/Sunday in Sodom*, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, THIS (Canadian Stage); Much Ado About Nothing, Forests, Scorched*, Democracy, Remnants* (Tarragon Theatre); The Wild Duck (Soulpepper); Hedda Gabler (Volcano/ Buddies in Bad Times); The Last Days of Judas Iscariot* (Birdland Theatre); Macbeth (Modern Times); and performing as Narrator/Storyteller in Tales of Two Cities (Tafelmusik). Alon has toured nationally and internationally with Kafka and Son, The Snow Queen, Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music (Theaturtle).
Awards: *Dora Awards for Outstanding Production, Toronto Theatre Critics Award, Outstanding Performance Awards: Prague Fringe, Germany’s Thespis Festival, South Africa’s National Arts Festival.