NEW ZEALAND STRING QUARTET
Helene Pohl (violin I), Monique Lapins (violin II), Gillian Ansell (viola), Rolf Gjelsten (cello)
Celebrating its 35th season in 2022, the New Zealand String Quartet has an established international reputation for its insightful interpretations, compelling communication, and dynamic performing style. The Quartet is known for its imaginative programming and for its powerful connection with audiences of all kinds.
Over the decades the Quartet has cultivated a rich repertoire, including a wide variety of New Zealand music, composers’ cycles from Beethoven to Bartok, Mozart to Berg, in addition to theatrical presentations encompassing spoken word and dance, from Haydn’s Seven Last Words to Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night. The Quartet have proudly championed New Zealand music since their inception, commissioning over 150 New Zealand works, alongside collaborations with taonga pūoro players Rob Thorne, Horomona Horo, and the late Richard Nunns.
Devoted teachers and mentors, all members of the Quartet teach at the New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī where the NZSQ has been Quartet-in-Residence since 1991, as well as running the Adam Chamber Music School in Nelson and the NZSM Queen’s Birthday Chamber Music Weekend in Wellington for up-and-coming chamber musicians, and mentor students from
Sistema programmes across the country.
The three longest serving members of the Quartet have each been awarded the MNZM honour for services to music in New Zealand. Violinist Helene Pohl and violist Gillian Ansell are also co-artistic directors of the biennial Chamber Music Festival in Nelson, as well as serving as the guest curators of the chamber music programme for the 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts.
DISCOGRAPHY & INTERNATIONAL TOURING
The Quartet’s extensive discography includes complete quartets by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bartok and Berg, numerous New Zealand compositions, works by Ravel, Debussy, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Dvorak, Wolf, and the premiere recording of the remarkable Zoltan Szekely quartet. In 2011 the Atoll Records release Notes from a Journey, a collection of works by New Zealand composers, won Classical Recording of the Year at the NZ Music Awards. A follow up album of all-NZ music has just been released. Their recordings on the Naxos label include Asian Music for String Quartet, the complete chamber works for strings by Douglas Lilburn, and all the Brahms string quartets as well as his string and clarinet quintets. Their most recent recording, Janacek String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2 / Sonnets, was released in February 2021.
Acclaimed performances in London’s Wigmore Hall and the City of London Festival, in New York at the Frick Collection, and in Washington’s Library of Congress Coolidge Auditorium have led to regular touring in the UK, Europe and North America. The Quartet has also toured in Mexico, Curaçao, Japan, Korea, and China, and made many visits to Australia, including the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville and Canberra International Music Festival. Much-loved by audiences in New Zealand, the country’s premier chamber ensemble presents a vast array of concerts in venues large and small, alongside mentoring and education projects with Sistema programmes all over the country each year.
The New Zealand String Quartet is renowned for its versatility and has enjoyed collaborating with musicians and artists from all over the globe, in a range of classical, jazz and world music and dance genres. Collaborations have included performances with Piers Lane, Kathryn Stott, Martin Roscoe, Denes Varjon, Peter Nagy, James Campbell, Richard Nunns, Nobuko Imai, Hariolf Schlichtig, Gao Ping, Anton Kuerti, Horomona Horo, Alexander Lonquich, Peter Cropper, Colin Carr, Frans Helmerson, Christoph Richter, and Joel Quarrington, the Lafayette, Lindsay, Michelangelo, Prazak and Goldner Quartets, BBC Scottish Symphony, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Collective Aotearoa, Royal New Zealand Ballet, The Song Company and Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir.