Saturday January 20, 2018
Knox United Church, Parksville. Concert at 7 pm, doors open at 6:15 pm
The history of the relationship between the members of the Saguenay and Lafayette Quartets predate even the quartets themselves. In the early 80s the members of the Lafayette Quartet were integral members of the newly-formed Renaissance City Chamber Players (later known as the New American Chamber Orchestra), a full-time string chamber orchestra based in Detroit, whose members performed chamber music concerts and chamber orchestra concerts on a weekly basis. Just before leaving that orchestra (to form the LSQ full time), they were joined by the Saguenay violinist Nathalie Camus and, after the LSQ’s departure, cellist David Ellis joined the group. The two quartets have played together numerous times during the course of their quartet careers and have a special musical bond and creative friendship.
Since 1986, the Lafayette String Quartet has divided their time between entertaining audiences all over North America and Europe and teaching some of Canada’s finest young string players. Their residency at the University of Victoria is rich in local performances and community involvement. Their concerts in Canada and abroad are hailed as “Passionate, riveting, and with flawless ensemble.”
The Lafayette is the only all-female ensemble in the world to comprise the four original members – a distinct rarity, regardless of gender and regardless of profession.
In July 1986, four young musicians, based in Detroit and just beginning their professional careers, performed together for the first time as the Lafayette String Quartet. Today the LSQ continues to flourish with its original personnel: violinists Ann Elliott-Goldschmid and Sharon Stanis, violist Joanna Hood, and cellist Pamela Highbaugh Aloni.
For five years, the LSQ remained in Detroit, where its members taught at the Center for Creative Studies/Institute of Music and Dance and at nearby Oakland University. Meanwhile, the LSQ itself received coaching from two of the world’s most esteemed quartets—the Amadeus and the Alban Berg—and from the violinist Rostislav Dubinsky, of the legendary Borodin Quartet, who served as the women’s “musical mentor” until his death in 1997.
The LSQ’s extraordinary musicianship was recognized early on. Already in 1988, it was ranked among the magazine Musical America’s “Young Artists to Watch,” and in its first years it won the Grand prize at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and prizes at the Portsmouth (now City of London) International String Quartet Competition, and the Chicago Discovery Competition. As winners of the 1988 Cleveland String Quartet Competition, the LSQ had the opportunity to study for two years with the Cleveland Quartet at the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, New York.
In 1991, the four women became artists-in-residence at the University of Victoria’s School of Music, in British Columbia—positions they still hold today. They recieved honorary doctorates from University Canada West and were honored with the inaugural Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Artistic Expression in 2010 from the University of Victoria.
The LSQ has performed across Canada, the United States, Mexico and Europe, with concerts often allied with masterclasses and workshops. They often collaborate with other string quartets including the Saguenay (Alcan), the New Zealand, the Penderecki, the Molinari, the Emily Carr, and the Quarteto Latinoamericano.
The Saguenay Quartet (formerly the Alcan String Quartet)— violinists Laura Andriani and Nathalie Camus, violist Luc Beauchemin, and cellist David Ellis — has developed a reputation for excellence throughout Canada and internationally since its formation over twenty years ago. The quartet’s originality, contagious enthusiasm, unique sonority, and remarkable cohesion have all contributed to its long term success. Critics agree that, both on stage and in the recording studio, the Saguenay Quartet possesses the qualities that characterize the best ensembles of its kind: a recognizable personality, a homogeneous sound, and elegant style.
The ensemble’s list of accomplishments is impressive: close to 1000 concerts; over 100 live radio broadcasts (Radio Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio in the USA, and Radio France); numerous television appearances; tours throughout North America, Europe, Asia; and a number of commissioned pieces and first performances. Recent tours have led the Quartet to performances in Italy, France, the United States, Asia and all over Canada. Its last visit to the Lanaudière Festival, accompanied by pianist Alain Lefèvre, was hailed by more than 6,000 people and welcomed by enthusiastic critics. This concert was also awarded the Opus Prize for the concert of the year by the Conseil québécois de la musique, as well as a Félix (Adisq) prize for the recording of the same André Mathieu repertoire.
Another cornerstone for the Quartet is the release of their highly anticipated recording of the Complete Cycle of Beethoven’s 16 String Quartets as part of the group’s 25th anniversary celebrations. The quartet’s discography includes major works from the string quartet repertoire including Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak, Debussy, Borodin, and others. These recordings have received adulatory reviews in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The quartet won the “Prix Opus, recording of the year” for its CD of Schubert Quartets.
In addition its performing career, the quartet is regularly invited to give master classes at universities, conservatories, and summer chamber music institutes.
The Saguenay Quartet is based in Chicoutimi, Québec where it receives the unconditional support of the Orchestre symphonique du Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. The quartet previously took its name from its principal patron, the multinational aluminum company Alcan. The quartet also receives support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the Canada Council for the Arts.
The composition by Airat Ichmouratov, String Octet in G minor “The Letter”, was commissioned by the group and is the premiere performance of the work in the octet’s BC tour. Ichmouratov was named as Resident Composer 2012 at Concerts aux îles du Bic (Canada), In 2013 he was the Composer of Summer at Orford Arts Centre (Canada) and in 2015 Summer Composer at 17e edition of the Festival Classique des Hautes- Laurentides (Canada). As of 2010, Ichmouratov is the Associate Composer with Canadian Music Centre.
Born in Kazan, Russia, Airat Ichmouratov studied clarinet at the Kazan State Conservatory. In 1993, when he was appointed as Associate clarinetist of the Tatarstan’s Opera and Ballet Theatre, and of the Kazan State Symphony Orchestra, he began to extensively tour Europe. In 2000, he obtained a Master degree at the University of Montreal. He then founded the Muczynski Trio, which won first prize and the Grand Award at the National Music Festival (Canada, 2002) and First Prize at the 8th International Chamber Music Competition in Krakow (Poland, 2004). The Trio has also recorded for CBC and has given performances in Canada, China, Russia, and Europe.
In 2000, Mr. Ichmouratov joined the Klezmer group Kleztory, in which he plays the clarinet, composes, and arranges. In 2004, Kleztory recorded a very unique CD; Klezmer Music with I Musici de Montreal and Yuli Turovsky, recorded on the “Chandos” label (Great Britain). In 2007 Kleztory’s album “Nomade” won the Opus Prize. His most recent (2014) Album Arrival was nominated as Best album of the Year in the Traditional music category by ADISQ. In 2012, Kleztory won Klezmer Furth Prize at International Klezmer festival and Competition in Amsterdam, and as a result, appeared at the Furth Klezmer Festival during the following spring. With Kleztory Ichmouratov has appeared as soloist with several orchestras, including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, I Musici de Montreal, Les Violons du Roy, and Brussels Chamber Orchestra and toured intensively in Canada, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Romany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, and China.