Geoff Nuttall : Violin
Owen Dalby : Violin
Lesley Robertson : Viola
Christopher Costanza : Cello
Stephen Prutsman : Piano
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS
The St. Lawrence String Quartet
“Modern…dramatic…superb…wickedly attentive…with a hint of rock ‘n roll energy…” are just a few ways critics describe the musical phenomenon that is the St Lawrence String Quartet. The SLSQ is renowned for the intensity of its performances, its breadth of repertoire, and its commitment to concert experiences that are at once intellectually exciting and emotionally alive.
Recent highlights include performances with Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic and Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony in John Adams’s Absolute Jest for string quartet and orchestra, and the European premieres of Adams’s second string quartet. Fiercely committed to collaboration with living composers, the SLSQ’s fruitful partnership with Adams, Jonathan Berger, Osvaldo Golijov and many others has yielded some of the finest additions to the quartet literature in recent years. The Quartet is also especially dedicated to the music of Haydn, and are recording his groundbreaking set of six Op. 20 quartets in high-definition video for a free, universal release online in 2018. According to The New Yorker, “…no other North American quartet plays the music of Haydn with more intelligence, expressivity, and force…”
Established in Toronto in 1989, the SLSQ quickly earned acclaim at top international chamber music competitions and was soon playing hundreds of concerts per year worldwide. They established an ongoing residency at Spoleto Festival USA, made prize-winning recordings for EMI of music by Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and Golijov, earning two Grammy nominations and a host of other prizes before being appointed ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University in 1998.
At Stanford, the SLSQ is at the forefront of intellectual life on campus. The SLSQ directs the music department’s chamber music program, and frequently collaborates with other departments including the Schools of Law, Medicine, Business and Education. The Quartet frequently performs at Stanford Live, hosts an annual chamber music seminar, and runs the Emerging String Quartet Program through which they mentor the next generation of young quartets. In the words of Alex Ross of The New Yorker: “The St. Lawrence are remarkable not simply for the quality of their music making, exalted as it is, but for the joy they take in the act of connection.”
Stephen Prutsman has been described as one of the most innovative musicians of his time. Moving easily from classical to jazz to world music styles as a pianist, composer and conductor, Prutsman continues to explore and seek common ground and relationships in the music of all cultures and languages.
From 2004-2007 Stephen was Artistic Partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, where he conducted concertos from the keyboard, performed in chamber ensembles, conducted works of living composers, developed and arranged collaborations for their Engine 408 series of contemporary and world music, and wrote several new works for the orchestra. From 2009 – 2012 he was the Artistic Director of the Cartagena International Festival of Music, South America’s largest festival of its kind, programming and curating concerts with themes ranging from Mozart celebrations, to eclectic evenings of folk and popular music of the Americas, to hybrid programs fusing art and dance music of multiple musical dimensions.
In the early 90’s he was a medal winner at the Tchaikovsky and Queen Elisabeth Piano Competitions, and received the Avery Fisher Career Grant. Since then Stephen has performed the classical concerto repertoire as soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras and his classical discography includes acclaimed recordings of the Barber and McDowell concerti with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland.
Born in Los Angeles, Stephen first began playing the piano by ear at age 3, before moving on to more formal music studies. In his teens and early 20s he was the keyboard player for several art rock groups including Cerberus and Vysion. He was also during those years a solo jazz pianist playing in many southern California clubs and lounges and was the music arranger for a nationally syndicated televangelist program. A former student of Aube Tzerko, Leon Fleisher, and Jack Wilson Stephen studied at the University of California at Los Angeles and the Peabody Conservatory of Music.
As a composer, Stephen’s long collaboration with Grammy Award winning Kronos Quartet has resulted in over 40 arrangements and compositions for them. Other leading artists and ensembles who have performed Stephen’s compositions and arrangements include Leon Fleisher, Dawn Upshaw, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Spoleto USA, and the Silk Road Project. In 2010, his song cycle “Piano Lessons” was premiered by Ms. Upshaw and Emanuel Ax at Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw, Disney Hall and the Barbican Centre. As a pianist or arranger outside of the classical music world he has collaborated with such diverse personalities as Tom Waits, Rokia Traore, Joshua Redman, Jon Anderson of “YES”, Sigur Rós and Asha Bhosle.
In the past, his dedication to the creation of new musical environments led him to create music festivals in such far-flung places as the island of Guam and the border town of El Paso, Texas. Passionate about the value of music for all, Stephen is actively promoting music and arts education wherever he visits. He is involved in several projects whose missions are to create enjoyable artistic or recreational environments for children on the autistic spectrum and their families.
Stephen lives in San Francisco.