The only all-female ensemble in the world featuring its four original members is ending its time after more than 35 years of performances and three decades of teaching at the University of Victoria’s School of Music.
The award-winning Lafayette String Quartet of violinists Ann Elliott-Goldschmid and Sharon Stanis, violist Joanna Hood and cellist Pamela Highbaugh Aloni takes its final bow as a group in August 2023.
“The Lafayette Quartet helped put UVic on the map as a string and chamber music destination by setting an internationally recognized standard of excellence. The sheer performance energy and powerful bond of these four women made a huge impression on me when I was an undergraduate in music here in the ’90s. It felt like a real feminist moment. This group brought ‘woman power’ to the highest levels of chamber music,” school director Alexis Luko said in a statement.
As former dean of UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts and former director of the music school, university acting vice-provost Susan Lewis has known the quartet for two decades and says the musicians have transformed the teaching of chamber music at UVic. They have trained and mentored more than 400 string musicians and developed the masters of music in string quartet performance – the only program of its kind in Canada.
With more than 1,000 performances worldwide and a dozen albums behind them, the quartet has plans underway for the final season, including performing and recording five new commissions by female composers.
In addition to an exemplary musical and teaching legacy, the foursome created the annual Lafayette Health Awareness Series to provide expert information on topics ranging from COVID-19 and aging well to brain health and breast cancer – the latter inspired the series and profoundly impacted the quartet following a 2001 diagnosis and treatment for one of its members.
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