SLSQ Awards 2019 John Lad Prize to the Omer Quartet

We are delighted to announce the recipient of the 2019 John Lad prize: the Omer Quartet. Based in Maryland, the Quartet is comprised of Mason Yu (violin), Erica Tursi (violin), Jinsun Hong (viola), and Alex Cox (cello). 

As recipient of the 2019 John Lad Prize, the Omer Quartet will perform in the 2020/21 season at Stanford Live and will also receive an invitation to perform on Vancouver’s Music on Main series.

The  John Lad prize caps a long association between the SLSQ and Omer Quartet. In 2015 and 2017 the Omer Quartet participated in the SLSQ Chamber Music Seminar and in 2019 the Omer Quartet returned to Stanford as fellows in SLSQ’s Emerging String Quartet Program—a two-week residency for young quartets focused on community engagement, reaching non-traditional audiences, and service through music and education.  

Past recipients of the John Lad prize include the Tesla Quartet, invoke!, the Rolston String Quartet, and the Cecilia Quartet.



The Omer Quartet won First Prize in the 2017 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and holds the Helen F. Whitaker Chamber Music Chair of YCA. It made debuts during the 2018-2019 season in the Peter Jay Sharp Concert of YCA in New York at Merkin Concert Hall, and in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center.

The quartet came into prominence in 2013 when it received Grand Prize and gold medal at the Fischoff National Competition. It has also received Top Prize at the 2017 Premio Paolo Borciani Competition in Italy, Second Prize at the 2017 Trondheim International Competition in Norway, and Special Prize at the 2016 Bordeaux Competition in France. In 2019, the quartet was named quartet-in-residence at Yale University and will work alongside the Brentano Quartet and perform at Sprague Hall on the Yale campus and in New York’s Carnegie Hall Series.

Committed to community engagement, the Quartet devotes time to creating original and interactive programs. They have inaugurated a Music for Food concert series with the help of grant funds from Tarisio Auction House in the metro-DC area with the mission to support local hunger relief. Their first season created over 7000 meals and involved collaborations with violist and founder of Music for Food, Kim Kashkashian and other University of Maryland faculty. Previous projects funded by grants included a Boston Foundation award to sponsor performances in venues such as homeless shelters and drug rehabilitation centers in areas of Boston.

Following study at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Omer Quartet completed a graduate residency at the New England Conservatory, where its members gave coachings and masterclasses and worked closely with Paul Katz, Donald Weilerstein, Kim Kashkashian, and Soovin Kim. The Quartet is currently the Doctoral Fellowship String Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Maryland, where it works with Katherine Murdock and David Salness, and the 2018-19 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at New York’s Caramoor Center for Music and Arts.


Founded in 1989, the SLSQ continues to build its reputation for imaginative and spontaneous music making through an energetic commitment to the great established quartet literature as well as the championing of new works by such composers as John Adams, Osvaldo Golijov, Ezequiel Viñao, and Jonathan Berger. Lesley Robertson and Geoff Nuttall are founding members of the group and hail from Edmonton, Alberta, and London, Ontario, respectively. Christopher Costanza is from Utica, New York, and joined the group in 2003. Owen Dalby, returning to his native Bay Area roots, began his first season in 2015. Together, the musicians perform over 120 concerts annually and call Stanford University their home.  


The SLSQ and John Lad began their collaboration 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 which were performed by Lad. He went on to perform and tour with the SLSQ 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, and reading chamber music late into the night.

“John’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.”


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.


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.