Sept 30, 2016 - Lafayette String Quartet
Ann Elliott-Goldschmid, violin; Sharon Stanis, violin; Joanna Hood, viola; Pamela Highbaugh Aloni, cello
Our artistic director had a conversation with Ann Elliott-Goldschmid of the Lafayette String Quartet…
Elizabeth: Your string quartet is celebrating it's 30th season this year-what is the secret to your longevity?
Ann: I don't think there's any one secret. My colleagues and I have literally grown up together. We have had remarkable teachers, and support throughout our career. Our residency at the University of Victoria continues to challenge and inspire us and is incredibly satisfying even after 25 years! We are blessed with excellent students, colleagues and an administration that puts a high value on creativity and the arts. We live in a vibrant city where culture is alive and well! My colleagues are brilliant musicians, wonderful people, excellent teachers, (and very good cooks). I feel we all share very similar values in terms of what the quartet means to us, our roles as teachers and mentors to our students and our commitment to giving as much as we can to our community in Victoria. All of this put together and many more reasons as well, have contributed to our longevity.
Elizabeth: Can you tell us how/why you chose the programme you will be performing for our White Rock audience.
Ann: Choosing repertoire is like putting together a complex puzzle. The program should be as balanced and varied as possible. I think we managed pretty well for the White Rock program. We certainly love it!
We are performing the 30th Quartet of Haydn because we are celebrating our 30th anniversary together this season! Few composers wrote enough quartets to have us play their 30th! The fact that it is nick-named the “joke” may be some sort of celestial message from Papa Haydn, we’re still trying to figure that out!
The Shostakovich 7th quartet is a link in a long chain for us. We are performing the entire cycle of Shostakovich Quartets in February at UVIC then again in April in Kitchener Waterloo. (more on that below). The 7th quartet begins with an ironic little motive that becomes supercharged with anxiety later in the work. It is a compact quartet negotiating typical black humour with fierce driving passages. The slow movement feels to me like a song of loneliness and emptiness. It is hauntingly beautiful and strangely mesmerizing with the second violin’s broken chords played legato-open and hollow. The finale ends with a strange waltz; lilting, and stilted as if the dancer is is no longer able to dance.
The one string quartet that Ravel wrote falls into the category of perfection. He created a sound-scape so pure and exciting, sensual and exotic, that frankly sometime I truly wish I were not playing, but listening from the audience. When we perform a work, we are only getting a piece of the puzzle. Of course we hear what we are creating, but, like a singer, we don’t actually hear what we are producing and are often having to create sounds together based on a learned trust that the combined sound is what the audience hears and what (we certainly hope) the composer had in mind. The Ravel allows us to explore sounds, colours, moods, and textures like very few masterpieces do. You will adore this quartet if you don’t already!
Elizabeth: What exciting projects/concert tours have you done recently or will be embarking on in the near future?
Ann: Well, I’m going to answer both your third and some of your fourth question here. After our school year ended and the spring concerts were over we had our Quartet Fest West http://lafayettestringquartet.ca/quartet-fest-west/ which is always a blast and this year was no exception. QFW is a festival where young string players-(and this year we invited pianists as well) come together for intensive chamber music coachings, rehearsals and performances. That was in June.
In July, we took off for a month-long tour of concerts out east in Canada-Ontario and PEI, then the Netherlands for concerts all over the southern part of Holland. We also taught and coached while we were there and met some fabulous colleagues from all over the world. We then had a two week break before coming back to Victoria and diving into more concerts and teaching! UVIC is underway now and our students have started their classes. As I write this they are all practicing diligently for their orchestra auditions that are happening this afternoon :-)
Our concert in White Rock falls right on the heels of concerts in Ontario with famed clarinetist James Campbell and the wonderful pianist Stéphane Lemelin. We have a couple more concerts this fall, (you can view our schedule here:http://lafayettestringquartet.ca/events/ ) but mostly we are spending our time bringing the complete Shostakovich Cycle of string quartets into our bodies and collective consciousness for performances and lectures in the spring both at UVIC and in Kitchener Waterloo, Ontario.
This Shostakovich Cycle is a HUGE project for us! It is our way of honouring our mentors, particularly Rostislav Dubinsky who was the primarius of the Borodin String Quartet, a friend and colleague of Shostakovich and one of our great coaches. Just before seeing you all in White Rock, we will have visited and played for his widow, Luba Edlina, in Bloomington Indiana. Together, they were in many ways, our musical father and mother. We are remembering Mr. Dubinsky as we work on the Cycle. He carefully and lovingly taught us the language of Shostakovich (and many other composers). We are very indebted to him for that gift.
Elizabeth: Upcoming plans for the ensemble…?
Ann: After the cycle? More music making! More teaching! More projects! That’s what we love to do.