Saturday January 20, 2018
Knox United Church, Parksville. Concert at 7 pm, doors open at 6:30 pm
The history of the relationship between the members of the Alcan 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 Alcan 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 Alcan 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 quartets 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 Alcan 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.
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 Alcan Quartet is based in Chicoutimi, Québec where it receives the unconditional support of the Orchestre symphonique du Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. The quartet takes 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.