Dover Quartet prepares to join Bienen in the fall


Source: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

The award-winning Dover Quartet will start their three-year residency at the Bienen School of Music this fall, where the members will perform and teach master classes. The members of the quartet met when they were students at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Rachel Davison, Assistant A&E Editor


The Dover Quartet, which has performed in the Northwestern’s Winter Chamber Music Festival for the past two years, will return to campus this fall to begin a three­-year residency at the Bienen School of Music. As a quartet-­in-­residence, the group will perform each quarter and teach master classes.

Comprised of violinists Joel Link and Bryan Lee, violist Milena Pajaro-­van de Stadt and cellist Camden Shaw, the Dover Quartet is one of the youngest ensembles with such a high level of critical acclaim. The performance group won the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition and now performs around 150 concerts a year.

The members of the Dover Quartet said they are excited to return to NU and work with students.

“It’s this next step in the career that we’ve all been looking forward to a lot,” Pajaro-­van de Stadt said. “Both times that we’ve performed at Northwestern have been highlights of our concert season. The audience there is so engaging. You can feel the energy right when you walk on stage.”

The four musicians met while students at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Link and Lee played in different ensembles together, as did Pajaro-­van de Stadt and Shaw. At one point, all four of them were available at the same time and felt the need to play together, Link said.

“Immediately, we just felt like a lot of stuff clicked,” he said.

Link recalls Schmuel Ashkenasi, a member of the violin faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music, telling the four of them, “You guys should really consider getting married.”

“If you are really enjoying what you’re doing, it’s not something you can really ignore,” Link said.

After they started in 2008, the Dover Quartet continued to rehearse and grow as a group. They went to Rice University to spend a two­-year residency as part of the master’s program in String Quartet Studies at the Shepherd School of Music from 2011-­13.

“It was a fantastic, really necessary step for us,” Shaw said. “Moving to Texas was one of those moments that showed how committed we were.”

It was at Rice that the Dover Quartet spent a great deal of rehearsal time preparing for the 2013 Banff Festival.

Their hard work paid off — they won first place and all three special awards.

“In 2013 we’d been together for more than five years at that point, with many non­successes, which in many ways was hard,” Shaw said. “At Rice University we had time to solidify our playing style. That was a catalyst for us to launch into the next level.”

Winning first place at Banff “drastically” changed things for the Dover Quartet — so much that it was overwhelming at first, Pajaro-­van de Stadt. Their concert schedule increased from 50 to 150 concerts per year and they were offered new opportunities, including an invite to perform at NU’s Winter Chamber Music Festival in 2014.

“That really was the thing that launched us in terms of the professional side,” Shaw said.

Blair Milton, the director of the Winter Chamber Music Festival, arranged to have the quartet play at the festival in January 2014. He was so impressed with the performance and how it was received that he brought the Dover Quartet back the next year to perform and teach a master class.

“They demonstrated themselves to be fantastic musicians and wonderful instrumentalists,” Milton said. “The audience loved them so I invited them back.”

Both the quartet and Milton feel that this residency will be helpful for students who can see the Dover Quartet as young role models, who are not yet far removed from the student experience.

“To find role models in such great players that are still in their 20s will be a tremendous inspiration,” Milton said. “They have this freshness that they haven’t forgotten where they’ve come from as far as students. They’ll be able to mentor our students through this difficult transition from being students to professionals.”

The quartet members are also looking forward to learning from the Bienen students as well.

“We all know from experience that teaching is a really formative tool for us,” Pajaro-­van de Stadt said. “Being at a point that were able to impart some wisdom on others is really rewarding.”

The Dover Quartet values the individual playing and musicianship as well as the group dynamic, both of which they will be able to relate to students.

“We really prioritize being vocal and having each member of the group have a very individual and unique personality, and somehow come together as a whole in a cohesive way,” Pajaro-­van de Stadt said.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Camden Shaw’s last name. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @razdav5678