St. Lawrence String Quartet comes to VCU

Alex Falls
Staff Writer

VCU’s Department of Music begins a new year of the Mary Anne Rennolds Chamber Concerts series with a performance by the world-renowned St. Lawrence String Quartet on Nov. 15.

The group is currently touring to celebrate their 25th anniversary, and founding member Geoff Nuttall said he’s excited to bring Richmond a great show. The quartet has performed all over the world, and Nuttall said they have come a long way since humble beginnings.

“You sound really bad for a number of years at the beginning,” Nuttall said. “You sort of have to do it when you have little life responsibilities, because you’re not going make any money for a long time … It demands so much time and focus before you actually accomplish anything that will allow you to earn a living.”

Director of the Rennolds Concerts series Stephen Schmidt said chamber music is an intimate experience for both the audience and the performers, and that St. Lawrence’s reputation as high-level artists of the form precedes them.

“They have become one of the established (chamber music groups),” Schmidt said. “At this point they’ve had a more than 20-year career so they’re not even a young group anymore, but they’re an established, well-known North American group that plays music really well.”

Nuttall said one of the things that makes string music an incredible art form is the centuries of influence on the genre. Nuttall also said the St. Lawrence members don’t write their own music, but instead rely on the great names of the past and the creativity of colleagues.

“Some quartets write their own music, but we’re purely performers,” Nuttall said. “We play a combination of music written by dead people and music written by living composers. Basically we play about 30 to 40 percent written for us or recently, and the other 60 to 70 percent is old standards and the great repertoire.”

For their Richmond performance Nuttall said they will be playing two timeless pieces from the past, one from Haydn and another from Beethoven. They will also perform a new composition called “Qohelet” from Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov, whom Nuttall called “a total genius.”

Schmidt said the Rennolds Concerts series is an incredibly valuable opportunity for music students, but worries not enough are taking advantage of the special event.

“I don’t think they realize the level of artistry and the high-level artists we’re bringing,” Schmidt said. “They’re busy doing many things students have to do of course, but then you graduate and suddenly you miss the chance to see these free concerts.”

Admission is free for students of VCU, and tickets can be purchased by anyone in the Richmond community. Schmidt said even though some people will have to buy tickets, the same caliber concert in New York City would be double the price.

Nuttall said St. Lawrence’s performances are all about sharing with the audience, and hopes to leave the Richmond audience with a show they will not forget.

“The most important thing for me is that people really connect with the music in a way that makes them want to hear more, and what moves them and affects them in a way which only great music can,” Nuttall said. “There’s nothing like great live music.”

The Rennolds Concerts series will host the St. Lawrence String Quartet at the W.E. Singleton Center on Nov. 15. VCU students can attend for free and tickets are available for the general public on VCU Music’s official website.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply