St Lawrence STRING QUARTET
Geoff Nuttall, violin
Owen Dalby, violin
Lesley Robertson, viola
Christopher Costanza, cello
“A sound that has just about everything one wants from a quartet, most notably precision, warmth and an electricity that conveys the excitement of playing whatever is on their stands at the moment.”
– The New York Times
“Modern,” “dramatic,” “superb,” “wickedly attentive,” “with a hint of rock 'n roll energy” are just a few ways critics describe the musical phenomenon that is the St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ). The SLSQ is renowned for the intensity of its performances, its breadth of repertoire, and its commitment to concert experiences that are at once intellectually exciting and emotionally alive.
Established in Toronto in 1989, the SLSQ quickly earned acclaim at top international chamber music competitions and was soon playing hundreds of concerts per year worldwide. It established an ongoing residency at Spoleto Festival USA, made prize-winning recordings for EMI of music by Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and Golijov, earning two Grammy nominations and a host of other prizes before being appointed ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University in 1998.
At Stanford, the SLSQ is at the forefront of intellectual life on campus. It directs the music department's chamber music program, and frequently collaborates with other departments including the Schools of Law, Medicine, Business and Education. The Quartet frequently performs at Stanford Live, hosts an annual chamber music seminar attracting musicians from all over the world, and runs the Emerging String Quartet Program through which they mentor the next generation of young chamber musicians. In the words of Alex Ross of The New Yorker: "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."
This year, the SLSQ marks its 30th anniversary season with musical engagements celebrating new compositions alongside cornerstones of the chamber music repertoire. The season kicks off with a new album of all six Haydn Opus 20s, alongside a concert at Wigmore Hall of the same program, which the Los Angeles Times recently hailed as “in-your-face exhilarating.” The season follows with engagements in North America and Europe featuring Haydn Discovery Concerts, and programs including Beethoven Opus 135, Amy Beach Piano Quintet with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, Debussy String Quartet, Franck Piano Quintet with pianist Stephen Prutsman, Korngold String Quartet No. 3, Paul Wiancko Oboe Quintet with oboist James Austin Smith, and new commissions by Douglas Balliett, Osvaldo Golijov, and Patricia Alessandrini.
Recent highlights include recitals at Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall, and solo performances with Michael Tilson Thomas and the SF Symphony, Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic and Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony in John Adams's Absolute Jest for string quartet and orchestra, and the European premieres of Adams's second string quartet. Fiercely committed to collaboration with living composers, the SLSQ's fruitful partnership with Adams, Jonathan Berger, Osvaldo Golijov and many others has yielded some of the finest additions to the quartet literature in recent years.
The Quartet is also especially dedicated to the music of Haydn, recording his groundbreaking set of six Op. 20 quartets in high-definition video for a free, universal release online in 2019. According to The New Yorker, "...no other North American quartet plays the music of Haydn with more intelligence, expressivity, and force..."
Geoff Nuttall (violin) and Lesley Robertson (viola) met as students while studying music in their native Canada and in 1989 founded the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Christopher Costanza (cello) joined the ensemble in 2003 after performing for many years with the Chicago String Quartet. Owen Dalby (violin) is a founding member of Decoda, the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall. He joined the SLSQ in 2015.