Cecilia String Quartet

Taking their name from St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, the Cecilia String Quartet continue to win praise following their 2010 First Prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC). “The balance between expressiveness and interplay was almost dauntingly perfect,” wrote the Berliner Zeitung after a performance in the Konzerthaus Berlin. European tours have taken the four Toronto-based Canadian musicians to the Concertgebouw Kleine Zaal (Amsterdam), Beethoven-Haus (Bonn), Wigmore Hall (London), and venues in Italy and Belgium.The Cecilia String Quartet (CSQ) formed while students at the University of Toronto. They soon won acclaim for their ‘extraordinary commitment and maturity’ (Montréal Gazette). Prizewinners at international string quartet competitions in both Osaka (2008) and Bordeaux (2010) and winners of a Galaxie Rising Stars Award in Canada, the CSQ went on to capture the First Prize at the BISQC. “With a stunning spirit of creativity that consistently celebrated risk-taking and discovery, the Cecilia Quartet impressed the distinguished jury above all others,” said the competition’s Executive Director, Barry Shiffman, when announcing the winners.The CSQ now perform for leading presenters in Canada, the United States, and Europe. They are also Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, a position that has been made possible by a generous gift from BMO Financial Group. Their concert recordings have been broadcast on more than a dozen international public radio networks, including Australia, Canada (CBC/SRC), and Germany. In addition to performing, they have a four-CD contract with ANALEKTA. The first recording of music by Dvořák was released in March 2012. The second recording of music by Janáček, Berg, and Webern, was released in March 2013.Highly committed to teaching and outreach, the CSQ have held teaching duties at Austin Chamber Music Festival (Texas), San Diego State University (California), McGill University (Québec), QuartetFest at Wilfrid Laurier University (Ontario), Summer String Academy at Indiana University and were recent Quartet Fellows at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. They have presented educational programs for elementary and high schools across Canada, the USA, Italy, and France. The CSQ actively seek to develop new audiences and their presentations have taken them to venues as varied as the Monarch School for Homeless Youth (San Diego) and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (Stanford).The quartet enjoys developing innovative programming. In 2009 they created BLiM (Breathing Life into Music), a month-long residency in France in collaboration with ProQuartet and the Centres culturels de rencontre (Cultural Centres – Historic Monuments) association in France and Europe (ACCR). In 2010, they collaborated with the Afiara String Quartet in premièring and recording compositions by eight composers of the Common Sense Composers Collective at The Banff Centre. In 2011, they collaborated with actor and director Alon Nashman in the multimedia production The Snow Queen.Min-Jeong Koh plays on a ca. 1767 Joannes Baptista Guadagnini violin, and Sarah Nematallah plays on an 1851 Jean Baptiste Vuillaume violin, both on loan from an anonymous donor. Rachel Desoer now performs on the 1929 Carlo Giuseppe Oddone cello on loan from the Canada Council for the Arts. The quartet would like to thank the anonymous donor and the Canada Council for the Arts for their generous support.