Campus presentations and outreach
The SLSQ maintains an active and productive relationship with Stanford Live. Each academic year the quartet performs three formal concerts in Bing Concert Hall on the Stanford Live series. This "series within a series," entitled “Sundays with the St. Lawrence,” is a co-production of Stanford Live and the Stanford University Department of Music. Each of these concerts features the SLSQ in performances of standard quartet repertoire, cutting edge works, premiere performances of new works, and collaborations with colleagues from around the country. Some highlights from the past few seasons: guest artists Paul Groves, tenor; James Austin Smith, oboe; Pedja Muzijevic, piano and fortepiano; and Jessica Rivera Shafer, soprano; the World Premiere of the John Adams Second String Quartet, co-commissioned by Stanford Live, Carnegie Hall, and Wigmore Hall; World Premieres of quartets by Stanford composers Jonathan Berger and Jaroslaw Kapuscinski; and the local premiere of a new quartet by renowned east coast composer George Tsontakis, for quartet and soprano. "Sundays with the St. Lawrence" performances draw sizable crowds, frequently filling the 842-seat Bing Concert Hall.
In addition to "Sundays with the St. Lawrence," Stanford Live annually presents other events on campus featuring the SLSQ. These include the Daniel Pearl World Music Days Memorial Concert in the Stanford Memorial Church (this takes place each October and is regularly curated by an SLSQ member) and the SLSQ's performance of the "Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross" by Franz Joseph Haydn, presented in collaboration with the Office of Religious Life at Memorial Church each Good Friday during Easter Season. These two events are continually well-attended; the Haydn event reliably fills Memorial Church each year.
On January 11, 2013, the St. Lawrence String Quartet was one of the featured performing ensembles at the Inaugural Concert in Bing Concert Hall, performing Haydn's String Quartet in F Major, Op. 77, No. 2. Prior to that festive opening event, the SLSQ was actively involved in the final acoustical preparations of the hall before construction was complete, meeting with the architects and acousticians and playing some of the first notes of music ever sounded in Bing.
Emerging String Quartet Program
Established in response to an observed gap in community outreach training opportunities for young string quartets, the SLSQ created the Emerging String Quartet Program (ESQP) at Stanford with support from the Hewlett Foundation in 2009. Since then, the program has since hosted twelve young string quartets, presenting them in more than 50 venues within and outside of the Stanford campus.
During each young quartet's residency, the St. Lawrence String Quartet — whose ongoing exploration of non-traditional venues and new audiences was developed in part through early community outreach opportunities — mentors each ESQP ensemble. SLSQ members coach each quartet extensively and provide them with performing and outreach opportunities during an intense one- or two-week visit. ESQP groups engage with traditional audiences in formal concert settings and at non-traditional venues as well, such as local technology companies (e.g., Genentech, Facebook); Stanford's SLAC; schools, including Palo Alto's Ohlone Elementary; hospitals; shelters; and at various Stanford labs and classrooms. ESQP groups have also performed at the San Francisco Jail, the California School for the Blind, and for other special audiences, notably children and young adults on the autism spectrum. ESQP groups are a mainstay of the Azure Family Concert Series, established in 2013 by the SLSQ and long time collaborator pianist Stephen Prutsman to serve families with special needs; the 12th Azure Family Concert will take place this autumn, like all others in Campbell Recital Hall at the Braun Music Center at Stanford. After their ESQP experience, many participants have gone on to create similar programs in their home communities, such as Azure concerts in Phoenix, Toronto, Vancouver, and New York; and programs for at-risk and incarcerated populations (Toronto).
Participating ESQP quartets perform at the highest of international standards. This can be seen through the results of recent international competitions, including the Banff String Quartet Competition (Rolston, Cecilia, Afiara), the Naumburg Award (Telegraph), the M Prize (Calidore), the Osaka Competition (Cecilia), and the Harbin International Competition (Friction).
The SLSQ's unique Emerging String Quartet Program gives young, up and coming string quartets great opportunities to gain essential performing and communication skills; at the same time, the Stanford community benefits greatly through the ensembles' energetic local performances and presentations.
The Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institute's "Why Music Matters" Course
Developed in collaboration with the SLSQ, the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes' "Why Music Matters" Course was created by long time SLSQ collaborator Robert Kapilow and Stanford doctoral student and passionate educator Heidi Lee to offer a unique hands-on approach to the study and exploration of music from a wide range of perspectives. The course is targeted to high-school aged students with strong musical interests and who might some day hope to attend Stanford.
Substantively, the "Why Music Matters" course is an intensive exploration of the inner workings of music across a wide span of time, including music theory and history, cultural history, and music technology. Students learn to listen critically to various types of music, both classical and popular, and gain analytical skills to probe into how a piece of music is composed. Participants are given opportunities to create and perform their own compositions and also have a unique opportunity to attend live performances and discussions with the St. Lawrence String Quartet and performers of jazz and world music. The course culminates in a final project of student compositions, performance, and/or analysis of music.
For six years, "Why Music Matters" has, in cooperation with the SLSQ and its Chamber Music Seminar, invited several young quartets to participate in the core teaching of the course. As such, the course has presented these groups in more than 50 communities, including various tech companies & laboratories, the CA school for the blind, Kiwanis club, VA Hospital, LGBTQ house, a women’s shelter, and at various Stanford classrooms and concert halls.