Some ideas are just too good to give up on. Case in point? The Lafayette String Quartet’s highly successful Quartet Fest West, which originally ran from 1993 to 1998.
While popular with both performers and audiences, the members of the Lafayette String Quartet—famed artists-in-residence here at UVic since 1991—found organizing and hosting the annual event was just too much alongside the demands of teaching, performing and family life. “It was extremely successful and popular with students,” says LSQ violinist Ann Elliott-Goldschmid, “but we could not keep it going along with the million other things we were doing.” Now that their children have grown, however, Quartet Fest West is back.
An intensive chamber music workshop, the new Quartet Fest West welcomes select students from universities across Canada and the U.S., as well as Brazil and New Zealand.There will also be a series of public concerts on June 12, 14, 18 & 21 (details below), as well as masterclasses open by donation.
Also returning are guest artists the Penderecki String Quartet, who were part of the original Quartet Fest West in 1993. But their combined history goes beyond the stage—LSQ cellist Pamela Highbaugh Aloni first met her future husband Yariv Aloni (current music director for the local Galiano Ensemble, Victoria Chamber Orchestra and the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra) when he was playing viola with the Penderecki Quartet at the original Quartet Fest. As Elliott-Goldschmid puts it, “Pam and he fell in love and the rest is history.”
Elliott-Goldschmid is also particularly thrilled about the participation of acclaimed violist and professor Gerald Stanick. A former head of UVic’s string department before leaving to teach at Western University and UBC, Stanick won’t be shy about putting these students through their paces. “It’s really intensive,” she says. “They learn how to communicate very effectively very quickly, they have to learn the music quickly, come to agreements quickly—they don’t have a semester to work on something, they only have 10 days.”
In addition to studying in masterclasses with the LSQ, PSQ and Stanick, the 25 students at this 10-day intensive also get to work with UVic recording engineer Kirk McNally on recording techniques, as well as rehearsing and performing in a musical hothouse environment—which, says Elliott-Goldschmid, is what sets QuartetFest West apart. “There are summer camps that offer chamber music and solo lessons, but normally you’ll only have one or two soloists and one quartet—but we have two string quartets and Gerald Stanick here.”
QFW students will also have the opportunity to learn from Feldenkrais specialist Diane Lade. “Musicians are athletes,” stresses Elliott-Goldschmid. “We use our bodies all the time, and you can get injured if you use your body wrong. For violinists and violists, the way we hold our instruments is very isometric and can be very damaging to the neck and shoulders; it’s repetitive work and if you have improper sitting postures, it’s easy to have issues with pains in our hands and arms. And for cellists, you need a lot of strength to get a sound out of that instrument; holding it and putting your fingers down to get the strings to stop requires strength, and sometimes people use their strength wrong.”
Whether you’re one of the students selected to participate or are simply attending the public concerts, Quartet Fest West has much to offer. “Audiences loved QuartetFest West,” concludes Elliott-Goldschmid. “It’s so nice that’s it starting up again after all these years.”
Quartet Fest West runs Tuesday, June 11 to Friday, June 21. Concerts are at 8:00pm on June 12, 14, 18 & 21 in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, in UVic’s MacLaurin Building. Concerts are $12 for students, $25 general through UVic Ticket Centre, by calling 250-721-8480 or the door. There is also a series subscription rate, where you can see all the concerts for $25 (students) or $65 (General). Daily masterclasses open to the public by donation.
• Wednesday, June 12: The Lafayette String Quartet perform Mozart’s “K 589 in B flat”, R. Murray Schafer’s “String Quartet No. 11” & Fanny Hensel (Mendelssohn) “String Quartet in E flat”
• Friday, June 14: The Penderecki String Quartet (program TBA)
• Tuesday, June 18: Gala concert with both the Lafayette String Quartet and Penderecki String Quartet performing Brahms’ “Sextet No. 2 in G Major”, Shostakovich’s “Octet” & Mendelssohn’s “Octet”
• Friday, June 21: Student concert (program TBA)
For those arriving by car, pay parking is in effect—evening parking is $2.25. Parking info and campus maps can be found here.