Named in honor of violist and Stanford alum John Lad (’74), the prize includes invitations to appear on the Stanford Live season in Stanford, CA and Vancouver’s Music on Main series.

Rolston String Quartet

Rolston String Quartet

Houston-based Rolston String Quartet first performed at Bing Concert Hall during the 2016 St. Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford. Just a few weeks later, the ensemble was awarded First Prize at the BANFF International String Quartet Competition.

The musicians -- Jeffrey Dyrda (violin), Luri Lee (violin), Hezekiah Leung (viola), and Jonathan Lo (cello) will receive invitations to perform for both Stanford Live and Vancouver’s Music on Main series, and will also participate in the 2017 Emerging String Quartet Program at Stanford. Now in its sixth year honoring exceptional emerging chamber ensembles, the Lad prize is named after the SLSQ’s dear friend John Lad (Stanford ’74), a violist and ardent chamber music devotee.

The SLSQ was initially introduced to Lad when they were preparing R. Murray Shafer's String Quartet no. 6 (“Parting the Wild Horses Main”), a composition which combines string quartet with the movements of Tai Chi. He went on to perform and tour with the ensemble across North America and Europe for several seasons. Lad was a fixture at the SLSQ’s summer Chamber Music Seminar, playing viola, leading early morning Tai Chi classes in Braun Courtyard, playing a Tai Chi based ball toss game with eager participants, then reading chamber music late into the night.

 “John Lad’s passion for playing string quartets was addictive,” says SLSQ co-founder and first violinist Geoff Nuttall. “His devotion to music against all odds and his total lack of ego are both qualities that are crucial to the success of any young ensemble.” At the time of his death, Lad was teaching Tai Chi in the physical education department at Columbia/Barnard University.

John Lad in an undated photo

John Lad in an undated photo

About the Rolston String Quartet

Praised for “chim[ing] the most resonantly with the ideals of perfect quartet playing” (Calgary Herald), the Rolston String Quartet won First Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition and is a winner of the 2016 Astral Artists National Auditions. They have also won First Prize at the 31st Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition, Third Prize at the inaugural M-Prize Competition, and the Durosoir Prize at the 2016 Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition. Performances have taken them throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe in venues such as the Kennedy Center, Harris Hall, Koerner Hall, and the Auditorium de Bordeaux. Notable collaborations include performances with renowned artists Andrés Díaz, Gil Kalish, Mark Morris, Donald Palma, Jon Kimura Parker, and Miguel da Silva. Additionally they have worked closely with composers John Luther Adams and Brian Current.

Currently the Graduate Quartet-in-Residence at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, the quartet has also participated in residencies and fellowships at the Académie musicale de Villecroze, Aspen Music Festival, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, McGill International String Quartet Academy, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Robert Mann String Quartet Institute, St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar, and the Yehudi Menuhin Chamber Music Festival. Mentored primarily by James Dunham, Norman Fischer, and Kenneth Goldsmith, they have received additional guidance from Steven Dann, Paul Kantor, Barry Shiffman, Miguel da Silva, Mark Steinberg, and Alastair Tait.

The Rolston String Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Chamber Music Residency. They take their name after the Canadian violinist Thomas Rolston, founder and longtime director of the Music and Sound Programs at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

ABOUTVancouver’s Music on Main

Music on Main is Canada’s “highly popular series that’s as musically adventurous as it is socially gregarious” (The Georgia Straight). Hailed as a global leader in the Indie Classical movement, the series has produced over 250 events featuring more than 700 musicians and over 50 world premieres, all in informal, inviting environments.  And since 2010, Music on Main has hosted the annual Modulus Festival, which “provides western Canada with one of the finest windows onto the post-classical scene” (Gramophone Magazine).  In November 2017, Music on Main welcomes the world to Vancouver with the ISCM World New Music Days 2017.


Stanford Live presents a wide range of the finest performances from around the world fostering a vibrant learning community and providing distinctive experiences through the performing arts. With its home at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford Live is simultaneously a public square, a sanctuary, and a lab, drawing on the breadth and depth of Stanford University to connect performance to the significant issues, ideas, and discoveries of our time.


2016-2017 season announced

We are thrilled to announce our upcoming concert season! Some highlights: Absolute Jest (John Adams's concerto for string quartet and orchestra) with Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil and Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony; tours of Italy, Paris, London, and the Netherlands where we will give the European premiere of Adams's Second Quartet; our three-concert series at Stanford Live; and return visits to Da Camera of Houston, Duke University, Music Toronto, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and many others. Take a look and let us know if we are coming to your town! We love hearing from our fans from far and wide.

Now available: Absolute Jest!

We're thrilled that the Absolute Jest recording has been released! Working on and performing the piece has been exciting on many levels, from the first conversations we had with John in Paris a few years ago (when the idea of creating "Absolute Jest" was taking shape in his mind), to our performances on two sets of San Francisco Symphony subscription series in Davies Hall and additional performances on domestic and European tours with the Symphony, as well as collaborations with the London, Toronto, and New World Symphonies. 

The piece was John Adams's response to an invitation from the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas to compose a work for the orchestra as part of its 100th anniversary celebratory season. John had recently composed "String Quartet" for the SLSQ (renamed "First String Quartet," since he has now written "Second String Quartet" for us), and he had become excited by the idea of taking late Beethoven quartet scherzi and twisting, manipulating, and morphing them into material for an orchestral piece with solo string quartet, to be played by the SLSQ. MTT and the Symphony agreed, and "Absolute Jest " was born. After six or seven successful performances in Davies and on the road (including Carnegie Hall), John found himself dissatisfied with the opening half of the work and re-wrote the first 400 measures of music, bringing us to the current, and recorded, version of the piece.

Recording "Absolute Jest" was a very direct and straightforward experience, since it's a "recorded live in concert" release. What that means is: we gave a series of three performances of the work in Davies Hall (followed by one short "patch" session), and the recording's producer took all the raw material from those performances and edited it into the current release. 

Working with John Adams has been a remarkably rewarding, exciting, and energizing experience for the SLSQ, and we're eternally grateful to him for having composed three magnificent works for us! The "Absolute Jest" adventure has been especially meaningful and thrilling, since it has given us incredible concerto opportunities (and there aren't very many quartet concerti out there!) and has led to important working relationships with MTT, the San Francisco Symphony, and other great orchestras and conductors. 

The fine folks at the San Francisco Symphony have published a video trailer for the new album, so take a look. We can't wait to get back to playing this great work in Europe over the next few weeks with our friends MTT and the San Francisco Symphony. Stay tuned for updates!

SLSQ launches new website

Dear friends and fans! Today Geoff and Chris began the first concerts of the Spoleto USA chamber music 2015 season in Charleston, SC, and will be joined next week by Lesley, and our newest member, Owen, who makes his SLSQ debut at these concerts. 

Today we are also launching this brand new website to showcase our upcoming performances, as well as news, videos, merchandise and more! 

Please be sure to 'like' the quartet's facebook page and visit slsq.com often for updates and lots of new content.

These are very exciting times for the SLSQ! We hope you enjoy the new site and we look forward to staying in touch with you!

-Geoff, Lesley, Chris and Owen

A new article about the Emerging String Quartet Program

Hi everyone - Owen here, posting for the first time on behalf of the SLSQ! Check out this terrific new article by Sara Langlands on the quartet's Emerging String Quartet Program, featuring the brilliant Cecilia String Quartet and the vital work they are doing by bringing great music into prisons.

This work means a huge amount to me personally and I'm so happy to be joining institutions that value the rehabilitative power of music, too. Thanks, Sara, for the eloquent feature!

SLSQ announces new second violinist: Owen Dalby to join in June 2015

STANFORD, CA - New York-based violinist Owen Dalby has been named as the new second violinist with the St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ). He will join the group in June, 2015. Mr. Dalby, a graduate of Yale University, is an acclaimed soloist and chamber musician. As a native of Berkeley, California, his relocation will be as much a homecoming as a new beginning. “I’ve always considered string quartet playing as the pinnacle of what I could possibly do with my musical career,” Dalby explains, “so for me, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“Owen has an incredibly generous spirit and shares our passion not only for the quartet repertoire but for all that goes into bringing music to life,” says founding member and first violinist Geoff Nuttall. “We are thrilled that he has agreed to join the SLSQ family!”

Departing violinist Mark Fewer has been appointed William Dawson Scholar at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. In their brief tenure together, Mark Fewer and his St. Lawrence String Quartet colleagues received critical and audience acclaim for their dynamic ensemble-playing. Geoff Nuttall adds: “Mark is a longtime friend, a terrific violinist, and one of the world's great pedagogues. McGill is truly lucky to have him!”

Owen Dalby will first take the stage with the group this coming June, at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, where his SLSQ colleague, Geoff Nuttall, also serves as the Festival’s Chamber Music Series Director.

Geoff Nuttall muses on 25 years together, chamber music, teaching

Stanford Report
By: Marty Semilla and Marisa Lin

TSD: In your experience, how is chamber music different from other genres of music performance – solos, orchestral performance, etc.? What makes it special?

SLSQ: There are so many reasons. The repertoire is totally unparalleled, with total masterpieces from Haydn to Shostakovich. Not only are we inspired by incredible music, but you’re able to control your artistic destiny. You can improvise and there’s total democracy in the artistic sense. With the quality, plus the repertoire, plus the ability to make one’s own decisions about rehearsals, nothing comes even close to it. But there are some negatives about it as well. It’s very hard to make a living. There’s four people and not a lot of money. As a string quartet, we’ve been incredibly lucky. We can have a life and a family and still perform.

SLSQ celebrates 25th anniversary season with three world premieres at Stanford

"It's no exaggeration to say that SLSQ is the jewel in the crown of Stanford's Music Department.”

Stanford's prized St. Lawrence String Quartet will mark its 25th anniversary with a trio of commissioned works from John Adams and Stanford-based composers Jonathan Berger and Jaroslaw Kapuscinski.