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North American Tour: A Homecoming

Updated: Jan 15

After a four year hiatus, the NZSQ returned to North America in July 2023. Helene, our First Violinist, reflects on a wonderful tour.


Returning to the North American continent for the first time since 2019 felt like a homecoming in more ways than one.  Having performed at the Festival of the Sound in Ontario every year from 2004 until 2019 we had grown to know many of the audience members and other artists like family, and had missed them terribly during the pandemic.  So there were many lovely reunions during our two weeks there - for instance with clarinettist and Artistic Director James Campbell, iconic bassist Joel Quarrington, and with the Penderecki and Lafayette Quartets, as well as new acquaintances, such as the captivating singing duo FreePlay, with whom we collaborated for the first time, and the brilliant young pianist Kevin Chen, with whom we played a wonderfully satisfying Schumann Quintet that brought audiences to their feet.  We also returned to the Elora Festival, and performed for the first time at the legendary Chautauqua Institution - truly an institution that brings together musicians, writers, philosophers, and lecturers of all sorts for an inspirational feast of culture all summer long.

Helene and Sandy Reuning

It was a wonderful bonus to also play in both my and Rolf’s hometowns on this trip.  At our concert in my childhood home of Ithaca, NY, I saw not only my first violin teacher - US Suzuki violin pioneer Sandy Reuning - but also my high school jazz band director!  In Victoria, BC, we were honoured with the presence of bass legend Gary Karr, and during the interval Rolf was spoken to by so many people he knew in the audience that we thought he’d forgotten to come back to play the second half…

(From L to R) Helene, Judith Ashcroft, Robert and Rolf

It was very gratifying to hear the enthusiastic responses from audiences, which included their delight in the New Zealand music we’d brought along (works by Gareth Farr, Lyell Cresswell and Dave Flynn).  They had missed hearing groups from other countries as much as we’d missed playing for them!

- Helene Pohl, First Violin

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