Interview with St Lawrence String Quartet – part 1
Stanford University feels too good to be real. The weather is idyllic, the grass is green, the students are shiny and diligent, and the wonders of San Francisco are just a train-ride away.
So it is a relief to find the St Lawrence String Quartet in a rehearsal room much like any other, in a building that could be a music institution anywhere. There are concert posters on the walls, and a bulky grand piano hunches in the corner. A friendly clutter of music stands, instrument cases, and scores keeps the space busy.
A closer look at what the quartet actually does at Stanford makes the ordinary rehearsal room look a little less ordinary. The players have given workshops at the business school and performed on iPads; they engage in debates and collaborate with scientists.
Cellist Christopher Constanza explains, “In terms of teaching, our actual hour requirement is fairly low because of our touring schedule. But we do a lot of other things besides teaching at the university, some of them official, some of them not as official.”
Violinist Geoff Nutall gives a quick insight into his schedule of the coming days.
“Today I’m teaching three groups. One group has a freshman cellist and then three doctoral candidates in astrophysics – classic Stanford. Tomorrow at noon we play Schubert at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre, for a crowd of physicists. Then the next day there’s a medical conference, so we’re going to go and play Beethoven’s ‘Heilige Dankgesang’ and talk about connecting music and medicine.”
“The official quote,” adds violinist Scott St John, “is: ‘The Arts: Inescapable.’”
© Shirley Apthorp 2011