New Orford String Quartet
>Jonathan Crow and Andrew WanViolins
“The world was made in six days. String quartets are supposed to take longer. But here was the New Orford String Quartet, sounding sweet, balanced and technically unassailable on Saturday, less than a week after their members, all past or present orchestra players, met for the first time…” — Arthur Kaptainis, The Montreal Gazette
“I was struck by how these four artists were also able to suspend time and capture this listener’s attention with a semblance of complete stillness…” — John Terauds, Musical Toronto
Hailed as “Canada’s top string quartet” (CBC Music), the New Orford String Quartet brings together four high-powered Canadian string players to form an ensemble that the Toronto Star has described as “nothing short of electrifying.” The Quartet has developed an especially cohesive sound and rapport while achieving enormous success with unanimous critical acclaim, two Opus Awards for Concert of the Year, and a JUNO nomination.
Celebrating their fifth season together, the New Orford String Quartet’s 2014-2015 season includes appearances in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Montreal, and Toronto. The Quartet will perform one of the inaugural programs at the new Isabel Bader Centre at Queens University in Kingston, ON; an all-Beethoven program at Salle Bourgie in Montreal; the U.S. premiere of a new string quartet by Gary Kulesha at Northwestern University; and performances of Tim Brady’s Journal: String Quartet No. 2 in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Oklahoma City, Toronto, and Kingston. In addition, the Quartet has performed recently with pianists Menahem Pressler and Marc-André Hamelin.
The Quartet performs concerts and residencies throughout the season while its members maintain exceptionally rich musical lives as the concertmasters and principal players of the Toronto and Montreal Symphony Orchestras. This wide range of experiences allows the Quartet to perform particularly well-informed interpretations, as each of its members is uniquely familiar with a large swath of a composer’s output from solo sonatas and chamber music to symphonic works and operas. The New Orford String Quartet presents programs designed to offer new and singular interpretations of the standard string quartet literature while also featuring both new and infrequently performed Canadian string quartets. Most concerts feature at least one Canadian work, including pieces by Ernest MacMillan, Jacques Hétu, Claude Vivier, R. Murray Schafer, Ana Sokolovic, and Airat Ichmouratov.
In October 2014, the New Orford String Quartet released its second CD, a survey of renowned Canadian composer Jacques Hétu’s chamber music for strings on the Naxos label which has been described as “simply perfect” (Le Devoir) and “hauntingly beautiful” (CBC Music). The ensemble’s debut recording featuring the final quartets of Schubert and Beethoven (Bridge Records) met with international acclaim, earned a JUNO nomination, and was hailed as one of the top CDs of 2011 by La Presse and CBC In Concert. In 2015, Bridge Records will release a disc of the quartet performing Brahms’s Op. 51 string quartets. During a recent residency at the Banff Centre, the Quartet was featured in a series of film segments produced by CBC Music featuring quartets by Brahms and Haydn.
Strongly steeped in its tradition, the New Orford String Quartet was formed following in the footsteps of the Orford String Quartet, one of Canada’s most illustrious ensembles. The original Orford String Quartet came together in 1965 at the Orford Arts Centre and performed around the world for almost three decades. The New Orford String Quartet leads a residency each summer at the Orford Arts Centre, and its members teach at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University and the University of Toronto.