Biography 2013 / 2014
 
Steven Lemay

"The groups sound was radiant from elegiac Adagio to the defiant Final."
- The Strad Magazine

"With its intense, focused style of playing, drawing the maximum expression from every phrase, the quartet presents itself as a group of star players, the energy radiating from them like the stars."                                                    - Calgary Herald

"The youthful Borealis String Quartet plays with a passion I haven’t heard since the heyday of the fabled Budapest Quartet in the 1950s."
- Music at Kohl Mansion, Burlingame, CA


One of the most dynamic and exciting world-class ensembles of its generation, the Borealis String Quartet has received international critical acclaim as an ensemble praised for its fiery performances, passionate style, and refined, musical interpretation.

Founded in Vancouver, British Columbia in the fall of 2000 and rapidly establishing a stellar reputation, the Borealis has toured extensively in North America, Europe and Asia and performed to enthusiastic sold-out audiences in major cities, including New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Rome, Mainz, Shanghai, Taipei, Beijing, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and, of course, in their home town of Vancouver. Their recent performances on the Beethoven Series at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and at the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Hall in Seattle were critically lauded for their serious and dramatically engaging interpretations. One season, they were invited to play three times in New York alone, with performances at the Schneider Concert Series, the People's Symphony Concerts and at the Rockefeller Centre. In their hometown of Vancouver, they were invited to perform at the Aboriginal Pavilion during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

In recent years, the Borealis has also established close ties with Asia, touring extensively in Taiwan to large sold - out audiences where their passionate performances of innovative programs combining eastern and western music has led to offers of yearly repeat invitations. This invitation extends also to establishing outreach programs and giving extensive and regular master classes at the major universities and schools. In 2011, they made their debut in major cities in China, including in Shanghai and have been touring extensively in China bringing music of the East and West since then. The recent success of their tour in 2013 resulted in immediate re-engagements for the spring of 2014.

The Borealis has also served as String Quartet-in-Residence at the University of British Columbia for the past 10 years. In addition, they have also been invited to be the Quartet-in-Residence across North America and Mexico in such places as the June Music Festival in New Mexico, the Magic City Chamber Music Festival in Alabama, the Winter Chamber Music Festival in Arizona, Idaho University and the Aguascalientes Festival in Mexico amongst many others. In the summers of 2012 and 2013, the Borealis was the Quartet-in-Residence at the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival. Following their success in Italy, they were invited back to perform for the Canada Day Celebration July 2013 in Rome, Italy.

In addition to performance, the Borealis has frequently served as jury members for competitions most recently at the 2012 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition. The Borealis is also dedicated to bringing music to the schools and the younger generation and are active in many regional outreach programs, both in North America and Asia.

Since 2006, the Borealis has been honored to work together with the Health Arts Society performing Concerts In Care programs for many people isolated in residential care. This coming season, they will be involved in a Beethoven Project with Health Arts Society performing throughout British Columbia. As part of their outreach and commitment to the community, the Borealis is delighted to bring their passion and music to audiences who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to hear the rich experience of live performance.

As well as extensive concertizing, the Quartet is frequently heard on CBC Radio and other radio stations across North America and Asia. The Borealis has recorded 7 CDs which feature original works by Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Grieg, Respighi as well as music written for them exploring a synergy of classical, fusion, folk and world music. Their first CD, "Classic Borealis" on Skylark Record (www.skylark-music.com) has garnered international critical acclaim. Said one critic, “...This is their first CD and it is, frankly, amazing... Their takeovers are pure magic - animated lines passing from violin to viola to cello and back again...seamless".

In 2012, the Borealis released 2 new recordings of music written especially for them. The first recording titled Folk Songs is comprised of mainly Taiwanese folk songs written and arranged by Che-Yi Lee along with audiences favorites like Deep River and Chrysanthemum by Puccini. The second one, titled Lullaby, consists of famous lullabies from around the world also arranged especially for the Borealis. Exploring other mediums to share their passion, the Borealis has also filmed music videos and short films including Beethoven Opus 59, No.3 which is very often broadcast on Bravo Television and Knowledge Network and was debuted at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Although the Borealis is strongly committed to the great traditional quartet literature, they actively seek to promote new works and are strong advocates of Canadian music, with works by T. Patrick Carrabre, R. Murray Schafer, Omar Daniels, Barbara Pentland and Jocelyn Morlock among others in their repertory. They have also worked closely with and commissioned music from Kelly-Marie Murphy, Imant Raminsh, Michael Conway Baker, and American composer Steven Dankner. BC composer, John Oliver, wrote a work for Zheng (a traditional Chinese instrument) and string quartet for the Borealis which was recorded with virtuoso zheng performer Mei Han, entitled Purple Lotus Bud. They have sought to take these works to many world stages where their performances have met with great success.

After their initial success in Taiwan, the Borealis was generously loaned a quartet of fine Italian instruments from the CHIMEI Culture Foundation, one of the leading string instrument collectors in the world. The beautiful instruments the Borealis performs on are a Giovanni Battista Rogeri violin (Cremona, 1698), a Lorenzo Storioni violin (Cremona, c 1780), a Pietro Giovanni Mantegazza viola (Milano, 1791), and a Lorenzo Storioni cello (Cremona, 1778).

The Borealis String Quartet would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Canada Council and the BC Arts Council. We are grateful for the financial assistance given to further our artistic ambitions and vision as well as enable us bring Canadian music and culture to audiences abroad.

 

" The ensemble set a tragic mood with long, gently shaped phrase over throbbing accompaniment"                                                             - The Strad Magazine


" ...combination of superb musicality and impressive technique...Energy-charged, yet still full of nuance, they take the audience on an unforgettable ride "
- Winnipeg News


AT THE REQUEST OF THE ARTIST, PLEASE DO NOT ALTER THIS BIOGRAPHY WITHOUT PRIOR APPROVAL.


2013/2014 Season - PLEASE DISCARD ALL PREVIOUSLY DATED MATERIALS


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