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St. Lawrence String Quartet


St. Lawrence String Quartet

Geoff Nuttall, violin
Barry Shiffman, violin
Lesley Robertson, viola
Christopher Costanza, cello

Having walked on stage together over 1600 times in the past sixteen years the St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ) has established itself among the world-class chamber ensembles of its generation. In 1992, they won both the Banff International String Quartet Competition and Young Concert Artists Auditions, launching them on a performing career that has brought them across North and South America, Europe and Asia.

The long awaited initial recording of the St. Lawrence Quartet, Schumann's First and Third Quartets, was released in May 1999 to great critical acclaim. The CD received the coveted German critics award, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, as well as Canada's annual Juno Award. BBC Music Magazine gave the recording its "highest rating," calling it the benchmark recording of the works. In October of 2001, EMI released their recording of string quartets of Tchaikovsky. In 2002 their recording Yiddishbbuk featuring the chamber music of the celebrated Argentinean-American composer Osvaldo Golijov received two Grammy nominations. Their most recent recording, Awakening, celebrates the string quartets of Christos Hatzis.

The Quartet performs over 100 concerts worldwide. Highlights of the 2005/06 season include their popular series Sunday's with the St. Lawrence for Stanford Lively Arts, a performance of music by Golijov and Schubert at New York's Lincoln Center, performances in Boston and Palm Beach with pianist Menahem Pressler, and appearances in Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, La Jolla, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Urbana, IL, and Dartmouth College. The quartet will visit Europe in November with concerts in Holland, Germany and Switzerland, and will return in July for festivals in France and Germany with pianist Menahem Pressler. The season concludes with a 20 concert tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Todd Palmer

Todd Palmer's virtuosity, art of phrasing and ebullient stage presence have brought him a stellar reputation as a solo and chamber music clarinetist that is attained by few artists on his instrument. Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, he began playing the clarinet at age 16 following seven years of study on the trumpet. In New York, he studied at the Mannes College of Music under the tutelage of Gervase de Peyer, and received the Outstanding Performance and Academic Excellence Awards upon graduating. He made his NY recital debut at Weill Hall and his concerto debut with the Houston Symphony as the first wind player ever to receive the Grand Prize in the Ima Hog Young Artist Competition.

Since winning the 1990 Young Concert Artist International Auditions, Mr. Palmer has appeared as recitalist, concerto soloist and clinician at major performing arts centers and universities in 47 States and has been given virtually unanimous praise for his supreme mastery of his instrument and unerring musicianship. He has also been consistently lauded for his engaging and inspirational outreach programs for young audiences. His appearances abroad have included concerto, recital and chamber music performances in Germany, France, Italy, England, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean, and Japan where his performance with pianist Ignite Solzhenitsyn was broadcast nationwide.

Mr. Palmer is in great demand as a chamber music performer and has appeared at many music festivals including nine years at Spoleto USA, Tanglewood, Ravinia, La Jollier SummerFest, Bravo!, the Caramoor, Bridgehampton, Portland, and the Vancouver Chamber Music Festivals. In addition, he participated for five summers at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, as well as the Tanglewood Music Festival where he received the Leonard Bernstein Fellowship. He has also toured throughout the years with Musicians from Marlboro and annually with Spoleto USA Chamber Music and can be heard on National Public Radio's Performance Today annually. He has been a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and has collaborated with the Brentano, Borromeo, Colorado, St. Lawrence and Orion Quartets. He has also been clarinetist of choice in Schubert's Shepherd on the Rock with sopranos Kathleen Battle, Renée Fleming, Roberta Peters, and Dawn Upshaw. Mr. Palmer has had a close association with composer Osvaldo Golijov since 1997 and was named editor-in-chief of his Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind for publication. In addition to Mr. Golijov, Mr. Palmer has also worked directly with composers Richard Rodney Bennett, Kenji Bunch, John Corigliano, Aaron JayKernss, Oliver Knussen, Steven Mackey, Stephen Prutsman, Kevin Puts, Ned Rorem, George Tsontakis, and Ricky Ian Gordon, who composed the monodrama Orpheus and Euridice for Mr. Palmer which was premiered in October, 2001 at Cooper Union in New York City. This season he will premiere a new concerto by Jeffery Cotton with the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra in Jordan Hall, Boston.

Mr. Palmer has also served as principal clarinetist of the Minnesota Orchestra and the Grand Teton Festival in Wyoming. His first CD, Hermit Songs , was released in 1995 by Koch International Classics and was praised by Fanfare and American Record Guide for "remarkable music making" and as "extraordinary in its range and emotional depth." A CD of Mozart and Tchaikovsky was also featured on the cover of the Feb. 2001 issue of BBC Music Magazine. In November 2001, Mr. Palmer was awarded a $20,000 grant by The National Foundation for Jewish Culture for the recording of chamber music by Osvaldo Golijov with the St. Lawrence Quarter for EMI Classics. This CD entitled Yiddishbbuk was one of the top-selling recordings of 2002 and received two Grammy Award nominations.

Osvaldo Golijov (born December 5, 1960)

Osvaldo Golijov grew up in an Eastern European Jewish household in La Plata, Argentina. Born to a piano teacher mother and physician father, Golijov was raised surrounded by chamber classical music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, and the new tango of Astor Piazzolla. After studying piano at the local conservatory and composition with Gerardo Gandini he moved to Israel in 1983, where he studied with Mark Kopytman at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy and immersed himself in the colliding musical traditions of that city.

Upon moving to the United States in 1986, Golijov earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with George Crumb, and was a fellow at Tanglewood, studying with Oliver Knussen. In 1990, Golijov received Tanglewood's Fromm Commission, resulting in Yiddishbbuk, which was premiered there by the St. Lawrence String Quartet in 1992. They were the first group of players to dive into Golijov's volatile and category-defying musical world and project it in its true, full form. In 2002, EMI released Yiddishbbuk, a Grammy-nominated CD of Golijov's chamber music, celebrating ten years of collaboration with the SLSQ, featuring also clarinetist Todd Palmer.

While at Tanglewood, Golijov became personally acquainted with the Kronos Quartet. This relationship, now more than a decade old, has become a central one to Golijov. He has collaborated on more than 30 works with them, including a series of arrangements of music from all over the world. Many of them appear in the CDs Caravan and Nuevo, both on the Nonesuch label. The continued collaboration with the Kronos Quartet also allowed Golijov to work with artists such as the gypsy band Taraf de Haïdouks (who also participated in the recording of Golijov's soundtrack for Sally Potter's film The Man Who Cried, starring Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett), as well as the Mexican rock band Cafe Tacuba, Klezmer master David Krakauer, tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, legendary Argentine musician and producer Gustavo Santaolalla, and the Mexican film director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams).

In 2000, the premiere of Golijov's St. Mark Passion took the music world by storm. It was commissioned by Helmuth Rilling for the European Music Festival to commemorate the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach's death. The piece featured the Schola Cantorum of Caracas, with the Orquesta La Pasión (especially assembled for this work by Golijov together with percussionist Mikael Ringquist), all conducted by Maria Guinand. The CD of the premiere of this work, on the Haenssler Classic label, received Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations in 2002.

Golijov has received numerous commissions from major ensembles and institutions in the U.S. and Europe and is the recipient of a Mac Arthur Fellowship, among many other awards. His music is performed regularly by musicians such as Robert Spano, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Dawn Upshaw, Luciana Souza, Maya Beiser, the St. Lawrence, Kronos and Borromeo quartets, and orchestras such as the Boston Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has been composer-in-residence at Merkin Hall in New York, the Spoleto USA Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Music Alive series, Marlboro Music, Ravinia, and several other festivals. Golijov is an Associate Professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he has taught since 1991. He is also on the faculties of the Boston Conservatory and the Tanglewood Music Center.

Recent works include a one-act opera, Ainadamar ("Fountain of Tears"), with a libretto by David H. Hwang, commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the Tanglewood Music Center. The premiere featured Dawn Upshaw in the main role, and Robert Spano conducting the Tanglewood Music Center Vocal Fellows and Orchestra. The opera was co-produced by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which presented it during the Walt Disney Hall's inaugural season with the same cast and Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducting the orchestra, and Lincoln Center, which will present it in New York in early 2006. In Summer 2005 Ainadamar will premiere at the Santa Fe Opera in a new production directed by Peter Sellars.

In March 2004, a set of folksongs, Ayre, featuring Dawn Upshaw and commissioned by Carnegie Hall, was premiered as part of the inaugural season of the new Zankel Concert Hall. For Ayre Golijov created a new group: The Andalucian Dogs, a collective of virtuosos, which also recorded the work for Deutsche Grammophon. The recording is set for release in 2005. Future projects on Deutsche Grammophon include recordings of Golijov's cantata Oceana, featuring Luciana Souza, the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, and his opera Ainadamar, with Dawn Upshaw and the Atlanta Symphony, all conducted by Robert Spano.

In January 05, the European Broadcasting Union will televise Golijov's last work to date: TEKYAH. This work was commissioned by the BBC especially for a film commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and was filmed there, performed by David Krakauer, Michael Ward-Bergeman, and the Sinfonietta Krakovia.

Mr. Golijov will be working with director Francis Ford Coppola on the score of an upcoming film. Other projects include works for the Kronos and St Lawrence quartets, and for Yo-Yo Ma with the Boston Symphony.

In January and February 2006 Lincoln Center will present a Festival called "The Passion of Osvaldo Golijov", featuring multiple performances of his major works, chamber music, late nights of Tango and Klezmer, and a night at the Film Society.

His works are published by Ytalianna Music Publishing and recorded on Nonesuch, Sony Classical, Hanssler Classics, Naxos, Koch, and EMI.