Local String Quartets
Here are the string quartets that I know about that are resident in the Bay Area. Most of these groups perform throughout the US and abroad, but perform locally several times a year. I will add more as I learn of them.
Alexander String Quartet
Alexander quartet was formed in New York in 1981. It was the first American quartet to win the London (Wigmore) International String Quartet Competition in 1985. (They won both the audience and the jury prizes.) The Alexander moved to San Francisco in 1989, where it became the resident quartet of both San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Performances organization. Members include: Zakarias Grafilo, Frederick Lifsitz, violins; Paul Yarbrough, viola; Sandy Wilson, cello. www.asq4.com
For a review of the Alexander's work at San Francisco State Uni.
For a review of their latest Bartok album, see:
Founded in 2013 at the SF Conservatory of Music, the group has begun to perform around the Bay Area and recently won a Fiscal Sponsorship from the SFFCM. Members include: Katie von Braun and Abigail Shiman, violinists, Erica Zappia, violaist, and Helen Newby, cellist. For more information, see: www.amaranthquartet.com/
Sacramento/SF based guartet, the group often appears with a flutist and is best known for its jazz-fusion presentations. Members include: William Barbini and Kineko Okumura, violins; Elizabeth Prior, violist, Victoria Ehrlich, cello, and Mathew Krejci, flute.
Baumer String Quartet
Formed at Cleveland Institute of Music (as the Kashii Quartet in 2003) they won Silver Medal at the 2005 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and 2nd Prize at the 2005 Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition. Three of the members are Crowden School (Berkeley) graduates. Members include: Nathan Olson and Aaron Requiro, violins, John T. Posadas, viola, David Requiro, cello. www.baumersq.com
Chamber Music Society of San Francisco
New quartet founded in 2013 and affiliated with SFFCM. Natasha Makhijani and Jory Fankuchen, violinists, Clio Tilton, violist and Samsun van Loon, cellist. For more iniformation see their website: chambermusicsocietysf.org
Circadian String Quartet
Founded in 2013, The Circadians have begun to appear at various locations in the Bay Area. The quartet includes: David Ryther and Sarah Wood, violins, Omid Assadi, viola, and David Wishnia, cello. For more information, please see: www.circadianstringquartet.com/
Cypress String Quartet
Founded in San Francisco in 1996. Gives local and international concerts. Their recent American Album was given a nice review in Gramophone magazine. They are very active in both local education and the commissioning of new quartet compositions. Members include: Cecily Ward and Tom Stone, violins, Ethan Filner, viola, Jennifer Kloetzel, cello. Cypress offers a season subscription, and information is available on their website. cypressquartet.com
Recent Cypress Review:
Del Sol Quartet
Founded in 1992, the Del Sol began its life in residence at the Banff Centre, in Canada, and then became the resident quartet at SFSU in association with the Alexander String quartet. The group specializes in actively working with living composers. Members include: Kate Stenberg and Rick Shinozaki, violins; Charlton Lee, violist; Kathryn Bates, cellist. www.delsolquartet.com
Founded in LA in 2003, the quartet is dedicated to contemporary music and works closely with composers. The quartet is currently the resident string quartet as Mills College in Oakland. Members include: Sarah Thornblade, and Sara Parkins, violins, Alma Lisa Fernandez, viola, Maggie Parkins, cello. www.eclipsequartet.com
Bay Area quintet that was founded in 2013. The group is a basic string quartet accompanied by a clarinet. The quintet specializes in music written for strings and a clarinet. Members include: Natalie Parker, clarinet, Dan Flanagan and Matthew Oshda, violins, Elizabeth Prior, viola and Jonah Kim, cello. For more information, see farallonquintet.com
Friction String Quartet
Formed by students of SF Conservatory of Music. Won Berkeley Piano Club Emerging Artist Award in 2011. Friction has given 63 world premiere performances and commissioned 30 works for string quartet. Friction received a Chamber Music America grant to commission a new piano quintet from Andy Akiho to be performed with Jenny Q Chai. They also received a grant from San Francisco Friends of Chamber music to commission a new work from Mark Winges. Their recording of David Conte’s second string quartet was just released on Albany Records. Members include Kevin Rogers and Otis Harriel, violins, Taija Warbelow, viola, and Doug Machiz, cello. For more information, see www.frictionquartet.com Here is a recent review that talks about some of the new music this group performs: www.sfgate.com/music/article/Friction-Quartet-finds-the-potential-of-5940757.php
Formed in 1983, and originally known as the Stanford String Quartet, the quartet was resident at Stanford University until 1998 when they renamed themselves and left the university to seek a wider audience. The quartet performs in the Bay Area, and often premieres commissioned scores by American composers. Member include: Bettina Mussumeli, Susan Freier, Jodi Levitz and Stephen Harrison. (I'm not sure about the status of this quartet. For information, see the Ives Collective.
Jupiter Chamber Players
A local string quartet formed in 1997, the Jupiter consists of Victor Romasevich and Michael Jones, violins, Stephen Levintow, viola, and Paul Rhodes, cello.
Kronos String Quartet (Kronos)
Kronos was founded in Seattle in 1973, but moved to San Francisco in 1978. Kronos is an internationally known string quartet that describes its mission as “to continually re-imagine the string quartet experience. Kronos fulfills its mission through commissioning, performing, presenting, recording and publishing contemporary music, and collaborating with, mentoring and encouraging other artists.” They have won numerous awards, including a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance for the Year (2003). Members include: David Harrington, violin, John Sherba, violin, Hank Dutt, viola, and Sunny Yang, cello. kronosquartet.org
Recent Kronos review:
The New Esterhàzy Quartet
Founded in 2007, the New Esterhàzy Quartet takes its name from the Hungarian estate where Joseph Haydn lived and worked and from the noble family that were his patrons. The group performs on instruments strung with gut, using the lighter bows characteristic of the 18th & early 19th centuries. They are the first quartet in America to have performed all of Haydn's quartets on period instruments. Members are: Lisa Weiss and Kati Kyme, violins, Anthony Martin, viola, and William Skeen, cello. Their focus is on Haydn, his contemporaries (including Mozart), his students (including Beethoven), and Viennese successors (from Schubert to Schoenberg). For more information, visit www.newesterhazy.org
Recent New Esterhazy Review:
Quartet San Francisco (QSF)
Founded in 2001, the QSF, offers a wide repertoire that includes jazz and other contemporary music. They were resident at Mills College, in Oalkand from 2004-2006, won a Grammy in 2009 for their album QSF Plays Brubeck, and were nominated in 2013 for a Grammy for their album on New Works by California Composers. Members include: Jeremy Cohen and Matthew Szemela, violins, Chad Kaltinger, viola, Kelley Maulbetsch, cello. quartetsanfrancisco.com
Real Vocal String Quartet
The RVSQ was formed in 2005 by Irene Sazer, previously a founding member of the Turtle Island Quartet, who wanted to create a quartet that would combine string quartet, jazz inprovisation and vocal harmony.
Members include Irene Sazer and Alisa Rose on violin, Matthias McIntire on viola and Jessica Ivery on cello. The group has released at least two albums and plays at various venues in the Bay Area. For more information, see:
Revolution Quartet is Classical Revolution's ensemble in residence. (See Classical Revolution under Impresarios.) The revolving cast includes former members of major string quartets and seasoned young chamber musicians. The group has performed at various locations in the Bay Area. Revolution Quartet members include: Jory Fankuchen and Rachel Noyes, violin; Charith Premawardhana, viola; and Samsun van Loon, cello. For more information, see www.classicalrevolution.org
St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ)
Founded in Canada in 1989, the quartet won the first prize at the 4th Banff International String Quartet Competition in 1992. Since 1998 the quartet has been resident at Stanford University where it leads a popular summer Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford University. Members include: Geoff Nuttall, and Mark Fewer, violin, Lesley Robertson, viola, Christopher Costanza, cello. For more information, please check: slsq.com
Telegraph String Quartet
The recently formed (2014) Telegraph Quartet, which includes the SF Conservatory alumni Eric Chin ’08, and Joseph Maile ’12, violins, Pei-Ling Lin ’12, viola, and cellist Jeremiah Shaw, won the Grand Prize and Gold Medal in the Senior String Division at the 2014 Fischoff Competition, held from May 9-11 in South Bend, Indiana. They have become the resident alumni ensemble at the SF Conservatory of Music for the 2014-15 season and will be presenting both Master Classes and Concerts at SFCM this fall and next year. For more information, please check www.telegraphquartet.com For a review of a recent concert, see: www.examiner.com/article/telegraph-quartet-links-the-first-and-second-viennese-schools-at-sfcm
Temescal String Quartet
Oakland-based quartet founded in 2004 by four musicians who regularly play in the SF Opera and SF Ballet Orchestras. Members include: Barbara Riccardi and Katherine Button, violins, Jonna Hervig, viola, and Ruth Lane, cello. For more information, check www.temescalquartet.com
Thalea String Quartet
Recently named the first quartet-in-residence at the San Francisco Conservatory, the quartet formed in 2014 at the Zepher International Chamber Music Festival in Courmayeur, Italy. Members include Christopher Whitley and Kumiko Sakamoto, violins, Luis Bellorin, viola, and Bridget Pasker, cello. For more information, see: www.thaleastringquartet.com
Turtle Island String Quartet
Founded in the Bay Area in 1985 by violinist and composer David Balakrishnan and cellist Mark Summer, this two time Grammy-award winning group focuses on integrating jazz into the classical string quartet idiom. The group has issued over 15 recordings. These include discs with the Detroit Symphony conducted by Neeme Jarvi, mandolinist Mike Marshall, and a soundtrack to the film A Shock To The System, starring Michael Caine and Elizabeth McGovern. The current members include David Balakrishnan and Mateusz Smoczyński on violin, Benjamin von Gutzeit on viola and Mark Summer on cello. The name is taken from Gary Snyder's poem that sugests that "Turtle Island" was one of the Native American names for North America. For more information, check turtleislandquartet.com
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