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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of  Music
December 3, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Faculty of Music

QuartetFest just a few weeks away

Chamber music series runs May 20 to June 6

Apr 28/08

"We want people who are inspiring, innovative, and talented," says Simon Fryer, explaining the qualities that he and his colleagues in the Penderecki String Quartet (PSQ) look for when they organize QuartetFest. Cellist in PSQ and Coordinator of QuartetFest, Fryer is speaking about, not only the student participants, but also the guest instructors who have attended Laurier’s chamber music workshop and concert series every spring for the past 12 years—the 2008 festival runs May 20 to June 6.

This year’s guest instructors are the Arianna Quartet, who are in residence at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the Hyperion Quartet, who are in residence at San Diego State University, the Silver Birch Quartet, who arrive from Sudbury, and pianist Jeannette Koekkoek, who resides in Holland. All will perform in concert during the festival. "These guest artists aren’t just excellent performers. They’re also excellent instructors with a solid record of working with students" Fryer says.

As for students, four quartets and two piano trios are participating in this year’s festival, some arriving from Newfoundland, Connecticut, and Texas. The Herzog/McEvoy Piano Trio, recipients of the Penderecki String Quartet Chamber Music Prize, will also participate in the workshop and perform in the festival’s closing concert.  The selection process of students for QuartetFest is strict with applications arriving from around the world—last year, a quartet from Mexico participated—and Laurier’s own students are well-represented annually. All participants are eligible to take QuartetFest for University credit, simultaneously advancing their practical music-making skills while working toward their university degree. Each student group is given a studio for the duration of the festival, a minimum of three hours of coaching per week, and four hours of master class so that by QuartetFest’s end, students will have had the opportunity to work with all at the festival.

Fryer is especially pleased that the 2008 roster of instructors includes QuartetFest alumni as the Arianna Quartet’s David Gilham, the Hyperion Quartet’s Amanda & Jonathan Brin, and Jamie Arrowsmith from the Silver Birch Quartet all attended the festival years ago as students.

The festival concerts this year offer an opportunity to experience the seldom heard (a Bartok Piano Quintet), the Canadian (John Weinzweig and Robert LeMay), and the sublime (Mendelssohn’s Octet Op. 20), but Fryer advises one should not pick and choose. Rather, one should compare. "QuartetFest gives the concertgoer a chance to see various quartets back to back which gives the opportunity to see different approaches. There’s loads of music performed by lots of different people in just a few days—all giving the listener a rich, layered experience."

Fryer expects those making the music will also gain a lot in a short amount of time. "The overall goal of the festival is for all of us to become better musicians and better people," he says. "Chamber music teaches you to accommodate other people while sharing a goal. To make this type of music come alive, everyone has to participate at maximum strength. Obviously, people have different talents, so the challenge is to move forward as a group. In a short amount of time, you learn an enormous amount about how to work and live well with other people."

Please visit for a complete listing of concerts.

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