Praised for their "emotional investment" and "decisive" interpretations (Toronto Star) and "intense" and "hot-blooded" performances (Globe and Mail), the Tokai Quartet is one of Canada's leading string quartets. In September 2007, the quartet became prizewinners at the Banff International String Quartet Competition, the first Canadian group to do so since 1992. The vibrancy that this exciting young ensemble brings to their performances is gaining them enthusiastic audiences across Canada, and has earned the Tokai Quartet a growing demand for performances at concert series across the country.
The Quartuor Saguenay formerly the Alcan Quartet), has developed a reputation for excellence throughout Canada and internationally since its formation over twenty years ago. The quartets originality, contagious enthusiasm, unique sonority, and remarkable cohesion have all contributed to its long term success. Critics agree that, both on stage and in the recording studio, the Quartuor Saguenay possesses the qualities that characterize the best ensembles of its kind: a recognizable personality, a homogeneous sound, and elegant style
The ensemble’s list of accomplishments is impressive: close to 1000 concerts; over 100 live radio broadcasts (Radio Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio in the USA, and Radio France); numerous television appearances; tours throughout North America, Europe, Asia; and a number of commissioned pieces and first performances.
The quartet’s discography includes major works from the string quartet repertoire including Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak, Debussy, Borodin, and others. These recordings have received adulatory reviews in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The quartet won the “Prix Opus, recording of the year” for its CD of Schubert Quartets.
New York-based HARLEM QUARTET, currently serving a three-year residency at London’s Royal College of Music, has been praised for its “panache” by The New York Times and hailed in the Cincinnati Enquirer for “bringing a new attitude to classical music, one that is fresh, bracing and intelligent.” Critic Julian Haylock, reviewing a NAXOS recording of string quartets by Walter Piston, called Harlem Quartet a “formidable ensemble whose members play highly demanding scores with infectious vitality, breezy confidence and (most importantly) affectionate warmth.” Since its public debut at Carnegie Hall in 2006, the quartet has thrilled audiences in 47 states as well as in the U.K., France, Belgium, Brazil, Panama, Canada, Venezuela, and South Africa.
n addition to performing a varied menu of string quartet literature across the country and around the world, Harlem Quartet has collaborated with such distinguished artists as violinist Itzhak Perlman; cellist Carter Brey; clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera; pianist Misha Dichter; and jazz legends Chick Corea and Gary Burton, whom they joined for their six-month “Hot House” tour that began at Tanglewood in the summer of 2012. Later that year Harlem Quartet made its debut at the Montreal Jazz Festival with another jazz virtuoso, Stanley Clarke. And most recently, the quartet performed with legendary bassist John Patitucci and with the critically acclaimed Shanghai Quartet. On that occasion, at Montclair State University in March 2017, composer William Bolcom remarked that Harlem Quartet can “perform the classics very well, but few other quartets swing correctly when playing music that requires that, and few other groups can call up so many authentic playing styles from all over the world. They’re sifting through our rich culture, bringing musical nuggets from all corners to delight their very wide audience.”
Harlem Quartet’s mission is to advance diversity in classical music, engaging young and new audiences through the discovery and presentation of varied repertoire that includes works by minority composers. Passion for this work has made the quartet a leading ensemble in both educational and community engagement performances. In this capacity, the quartet has written several successful grants, including a Cultural Connections Artist-In-Residence grant from James Madison University and a 2016 Guarneri String Quartet grant from Chamber Music America; the latter allowed the quartet to participate in an extended performance and educational residency in Mobile, Alabama that included a close partnership with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra.
Veterans of orchestral and chamber music performance and members of Port Milford's core Artist Faculty, the Port Milford Chamber Players (Marie Berard, Rohan Gregory, Angela Rudden and Paul Widner) come together each summer to coach young musicians and to perform in concert with technical distinction and a sensitive rapport.