Biography 2022/2023

"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.

The Borealis has continued to receive awards and rave accolades from presenters, renowned musicians and critics alike for their artistry. The Borealis was the only classical group to be selected for the Great Canadian Dream Competition which was televised across the nation and as a result, were the only classical musicians to perform for the Prime Minister of Canada at the Parliament Hill in Ottawa for an audience of over 75,000. Since then, they have performed on every music series in Canada. Amongst other awards, their most recent CD was also nominated for the prestigious Golden Melody Award in Asia.

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 quartet is frequently seen on television and heard on CBC Radio and other stations across North America and Asia. The Borealis has also filmed music videos including “The Harp” which were debuted at the Vancouver International Film Festival and often broadcast on Bravo Television and the Knowledge Network. Exploring a synergy of classical, fusion, folk and world music, the Borealis has recorded seven CDs which feature the great classics as well as music written especially for them. This includes a ‘Folk Song’ and ‘Lullaby’ album comprised of songs from around the world. The others feature original works by Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Grieg, Respighi. 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".

The Borealis is passionate about stretching the boundaries of the classical string quartet and transforming the chamber music concert experience. Using thematic and innovative programming, popular music for our younger generations, videos and cameras to enrich the visual presentation, as well as speaking from the stage to better engage the audience, the Borealis has attracted new audiences into the concert hall and are recreating the chamber music experience.“they were not going to let anyone cling to their sober stereotypes of classical music and chamber quartets.The four musicians from British Columbia practically flew out of their chairs, so vigorous and physical was their playing.” The Globe and Mail, Toronto

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 past season alone, they performed over 100 concerts throughout British Columbia in a Beethoven Project with Health Arts Society. As part of their outreach and commitment to the community, the Borealis is delighted to bring their music to audiences who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to hear the rich experience of live performance. The Borealis is also dedicated and passionate about bringing music to the schools and the younger generation and are active in many regional outreach programs, both in North America and Asia.

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, Hu Xiao-Ou, Bramwell Tovey 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. 

In addition to performance, the Borealis has frequently served as jury members for competitions and most recently at the 2012 E-Gre National Competition. The Borealis was the String Quartet-in-Residence at the University of British Columbia for over 10 years. They also were the Visiting Scholars at Green College from 2000-2004 during which time they performed for many dignitaries including the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

They have also been invited to be the the Quartet in Residence at numerous festivals and universities across North America, Mexico, Europe and Asia. Included are the June Festival in New Mexico, the Magic City Festival in Alabama, the Winter Festival in Arizona, Festival Aguascalientes in Mexico and Idaho University amongst others. From 2012, the Borealis has been the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy. Following their success in Itally, they were invited back to performfor the Canada Day Celebration July 2014 in Rome, Italy.

Most recently, Borealis in partnership with the Canadian Music Center, held the inaugural Jean Coulthard String Quartet readings for emerging young composers which will develop as an annual event. The Borealis also launched their first Summer Chamber Music Retreat on Denman Island, BC in August 2017.

The Borealis is on faculty and acts as the Quartet in Residence at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and at the Langley Community Music School (LCMS). 

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.


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

- Winnipeg News



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