NEW ZEALAND STRING QUARTET
Helene Pohl (violin I), Monique Lapins (violin II), Gillian Ansell (viola), Rolf Gjelsten (cello)
Founded in 1987, the New Zealand String Quartet – Te Rōpu Tūrū O Aotearoa - exists to provide transformational chamber music experiences for all New Zealanders. Over the past 36 years the Quartet has established an international reputation for its insightful interpretations, compelling communication, and dynamic performing style.
The NZSQ provides dynamic and high-quality musical experiences for all New Zealanders embracing the fresh and familiar. The Quartet’s rich repertoire includes a wide variety of New Zealand music, composers’ cycles from Beethoven to Bartok, Mozart to Berg, and theatrical presentations encompassing spoken word and dance, from Haydn’s Seven Last Words to Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night. The NZSQ proudly champions New Zealand and Māori music and artists as cultural ambassadors at home and abroad. Since its inception, the Quartet has premiered over 150 New Zealand works, and now works closely with its Mātanga Ngā Toi Māori, taonga pūoro player Horomona Horo.
The NZSQ takes a leadership and advocacy role in advancing music education. 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. The NZSQ runs the NZSM Chamber Music Intensive Weekend in Wellington for up-and-coming chamber musicians, and regularly mentors students from Sistema programmes across the country.
In 2023, Helene, Monique, Gillian, and Rolf surpassed 100 years of collective service to music in New Zealand. The three longest serving members of the Quartet have each been awarded the MNZM honour for services to music in New Zealand.
Monique plays a 1784 Lorenzo Storioni violin made in Cremona Italy, and kindly on loan from Duncan Craig and the Lily Duncan Trust.
Find out more about her instrument here.
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.