One of the most dynamic and exciting world-class ensembles of its generation, the Borealis String Quartet has received international critical acclaim as an ensemble praised for its fiery performances, passionate style, and refined, musical interpretation.
Founded in Vancouver, British Columbia in the autumn of 2000 and rapidly establishing a stellar reputation, the Borealis has toured extensively in North America and performed to enthusiastic sold-out audiences in major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco, Washington DC, Montreal, Ottawa and, of course, in their home town of Vancouver. Their recent performances on the Beethoven Series at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and at the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Hall in Seattle were critically lauded for their serious and dramatically engaging interpretations. Last season, they were invited to play three times in New York alone, with performances at the Schneider Concert Series, the People’s Symphony Concerts and at the Rockefeller Centre. Moreover, they were also invited to perform at the 2010 Aboriginal Pavilion during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
In recent years, the Borealis has established close ties with Asia, touring extensively in Taiwan to large, sold – out, audiences where their passionate performances of innovative programs combining eastern and western music has led to offers of yearly repeat invitations. This invitation extends also to establishing outreach programs and giving extensive and regular masterclasses at the major universities and schools. This year they will be making their debut in major cities in China, including in Shanghai.
Although the Borealis feels strongly committed to the great traditional quartet literature, they actively seek to promote new works and are strong advocates of Canadian music, with quartets by R. Murray Schafer and Omar Daniels among others in their repertory. They have also worked closely with and commissioned music from Imant Raminsh, Kelly-Marie Murphy, and John Oliver, who wrote a work for Zheng (a traditional Chinese instrument) and string quartet for them which they recorded, entitled Purple Lotus Bud. They have sought to take these works to many world stages where the performances have met with great success.
The Borealis has also served as String Quartet-in-Residence at the University of British Columbia for the past 10 years. In addition, they have been the Quartet in Residence at the June Music Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Magic City Chamber Music Festival in Birmingham, Alabama and the Winter Chamber Music Festival in Tucson, Arizona. This past January, they served a short – term residency at Idaho University. The Borealis are dedicated to bringing music to the schools and the younger generation and are active in many regional outreach programs, both in North America and Asia.
As well as extensive concertizing, the quartet is frequently heard on CBC Radio and other radio stations across North America and Asia. The Borealis has filmed music videos which were broadcast on Bravo Television and debuted at the Vancouver International Film Festival. They have recorded 4 CDs, 3 of which feature works by Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Grieg, and Respighi. Their CD, “Classic Borealis” on Skylark Record has garnered international critical acclaim. Said one critic, “…This is their first CD and it is, frankly, amazing… Their takeovers are pure magic – animated lines passing from violin to viola to cello and back again…seamless”. The last two will be released in 2010, one of which is entitled ‘Hope of Spring Breeze’, and is mainly a collection of well-known Taiwanese folk songs but includes favourites such as Deep River, and Chrysanthemum from Puccini.
After their initial success in Taiwan in 2006, the Borealis was generously loaned a quartet of fine Italian instruments from the CHIMEI Culture Foundation, one of the leading string instrument collectors in the world. The beautiful instruments the Borealis performs on are a Giovanni Battista Rogeri violin (Cremona, 1698), a Lorenzo Storioni violin (Cremona, c 1780), a Pietro Giovanni Mantegazza viola (Milano, 1791), and a Lorenzo Storioni cello (Cremona, 1778)