‘The pinnacle of performers:’ St. Lawrence Quartet perform at Seventh Day Adventist | TheUnion.com

‘The pinnacle of performers:’ St. Lawrence Quartet perform at Seventh Day Adventist

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector


WHAT: InConcert Sierra presents St. Lawrence String Quartet

WHERE: Seventh-day Adventist Church, 12889 Osborne Hill Road, Grass Valley

WHEN: Sunday, March 17, 2 p.m.

TICKETS: $38 general admission at Briarpatch Food Co-op, or online at inconcertsierra.org.

Once again, world class entertainers are coming to Grass Valley.

This Sunday with thanks to InConcert Sierra, the award winning, world renowned, St. Lawrence String Quartet will play at the Seventh Day Adventist Church as part of the third Sunday series tagged as “classical music that will rock your world.”

The St. Lawrence String Quartet formed in Canada 30 years ago, and this year celebrates its 20th year as artists in residence at Stanford University.

Arguably one of the top string quartets in the world, they have been on InConcert Sierra Artistic Director Ken Hardin’s radar for some time. Hardin explains because the third Sunday series has specific dates to fill, he often must wait several seasons to book the performers he wants.

“I have been enamored by the St. Lawrence String quartet for years,” Hardin said, “and have always known I wanted to have them on the series but it takes a long time to work out when I can have a group because they have to work into our schedule; I can’t fit into theirs.”

Sunday’s performance will include three of the most famous composers who ever wrote for quartet. The group will perform Haydn’s String Quartet in F Minor, Op.55, No.2 (“The Razor”), Beethoven’s String Quartet in F, Op. 135 , and Brahms String Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2.

“They are the pinnacle of performers of Haydn,” said Hardin. “Part of the beauty of the St. Lawrence Quartet is that they have played together for so long they can play off each other really well. They are animated and fun. They are like rock musicians playing string instruments without amplifiers. It is an incredibly fun program.”

The quartet is quite active. Cellist Chris Costanza, who joined St. Lawrence Quartet in 1989, said, “We are entering into a celebratory time. We are about to celebrate our 30th anniversary which coincides with our 20th anniversary as artists in residence at Stanford University. The quartet won a couple of significant awards early on and was able work with the top three quartets in the United States, at the time. When I joined, we were playing over 100 concerts a year if not more.”

Stanford has a busy and active music department.

“We have full-time positions at the University,” explained Costanza, “so we teach our instruments in the music department, we run a chamber music program made up of students, we perform concerts on campus and we also frequently collaborate with other departments and schools at the university on campus — with the medical school, the business school, the law school, engineering, the math department — so we have a number of programs where we connect music to other programs. For instance, we took a piece and linked mathematical concepts to music.”

This educational background will be especially helpful when the quartet performs for over 650 third graders on the Monday following their Sunday performance as part of InConcert Sierra’s educational program. Hardin said for at least a decade InConcert Sierra has brought students to live performances at no cost to them.

“We bus the students to the venue, and they see a concert just as adults would,” he said. “It’s a more formal arrangement so when they come to the concert hall, they are in the frame of mind to receive it.”

Constanza said, “To allow the young folks to be exposed to music in a live setting is essential not only to their musical development but to their intellectual and spirit — it connects on many levels. We want to see them absorbing the music and learning something about it.”

The program is a bit different with the quartet playing shorter pieces with an introduction and an interactive discussion between the members of the quartet and the students.

“We give them a program to take home that talks to them about what they heard, offers them a deal on coming back to a future performance,” Hardin said.

Children age 5-17 are admitted free to third Sunday chamber performances when accompanied by an adult. Costanza said engaging young people is incredibly important.

“As a full time professional musician I have my own bias, but what I think it’s important to impress upon the young people, especially in this generation, that we have our devices — computers, iPad, phones and various things where we can access worlds of information, but there is nothing like direct human interaction. There is nothing like hearing something live because it is being created in the moment. And you get a very personal connection to it that way.”

“Our goal is to have kids come to a concert like this and have an experience with classical music that is engaging and enjoyable,” said Hardin. “We just want to plant that seed so that when they are older, they will think about coming to see us.”

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.

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