November Touring

22 November 2016 / News

This month is absolutely jam-packed with international touring and recording sessions. We flew to the US at the start of the month for a series of concerts in the States and Canada, spent four days recording in Toronto last week, and have a few days at home to catch our breath before we fly out to Hobart to give a concert for Musica Viva Tasmania on 30 November.

Our North American tour began with a concert at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC. What a time to be there, in the lead-up to such a highly contentious presidential election! We were given a hugely warm reception at the Embassy by Ambassador Tim Groser and were thrilled to learn, just minutes before our performance, that the Embassy had planned to stream our concert live on Facebook – a first for them and a first for us!  If you didn’t happen to catch it on the day and would like to watch and listen back to it, you can find it here.

We gave two further concerts that week, both of them with violist Maria Lambros, our partner for the recordings of the Brahms Viola Quintets. The first was an intimate house concert in a beautiful home on the outskirts of Baltimore and, in preparation for the concert, we gave an open rehearsal at the Peabody Institute where Maria teaches. Back in Washington, we performed Haydn, Farr, Body and Brahms in the beautiful resonant acoustic of Dumbarton Church as part of the long-established Dumbarton Concerts series.

Then it was off to Florida for four days, where we had been invited to do a short teaching residency at Florida State University. We began by giving an open presentation about how to shape a quartet career. Preparing for this class was a very interesting exercise for us because it made us think about the different elements that make for a satisfying career. We all agreed that an important part of every musician's career is musical outreach to under-served communities, and we enjoyed talking with the students about the most effective strategies we have used over the years. 

While at Florida State University we also gave a concert with Helene’s former quartet partner, cellist Greg Sauer. Helene and Greg met at the Eastman School of Music and were both inspired by their teachers and mentors the Cleveland Quartet. Later on Greg and Helene founded the Fidelio Quartet together and played in that group for six years, until shortly before Helene’s departure to take up the position of 1st violinist with the New Zealand String Quartet. Helene comments:

It was very special for me to play with this fine musician with whom I had spent so many formative years and to enjoy the five-way conversations between him and my current musical family.  

In Canada, we played for the Ottawa Chamberfest in the magnificent and huge old downtown Dominion Chalmers church. We really felt we were among friends there, as we have played in the Ottawa Summerfest a few times and many of the audience members know us. Our programme included Schubert's Cello Quintet with Paul Marleyn, a wonderful English cellist who lives and teaches in Ottawa.

Our final concert of the tour was in Hamilton, Ontario, in the very attractive modern art gallery there - a spacious building with calm, beautiful rooms. It was a perfect sunny autumn day and the concert hall was in a corner of the building with floor-to-ceiling glass, trees outside and sun streaming in. A very special way to end our tour!

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