“There was also something you can’t put your finger on that’s intuitive about the way that we responded to one another’s playing. I don’t even know how to put it into words. It’s chemistry, like in any relationship.” ~ Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt
In 2013, the Dover Quartet’s sensational performance earned them the top and special prizes at the String Quartet Competition in Banff. They have been in high demand ever since on the performance circuit.
As part of their breakneck touring pace throughout the US and Canada, they will be performing in Toronto this Thursday afternoon in the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto’s 117th series, and at Jeffery Concerts on Friday at 8 pm in London, Ontario.
Violinists Joel Link and Bryan Lee got to know each other at the Encore Festival when they were about 12 years old, and entered the Curtis Music Institute the same year. Violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt and cellist Camden Shaw joined Curtis the following year, but it wasn’t until their senior years that they finally had a chance to play together and discover the uncanny synergy that they shared.
“We all had a very similar concept of sound and the relationship of voices in a quartet,” Milena said. “There was also something you can’t put your finger on that’s intuitive about the way that we responded to one another’s playing. I don’t even know how to put it into words. It’s chemistry, like in any relationship.”
A quartet is certainly an intimate musical bond, one that has to be nurtured and refined over time. They have been through important junctures during their collective journey that have strengthened their commitment to each other and their shared musical vision.
“We had this relationship talk early to make sure we all shared the same long-term vision, and it was very exciting to pursue it together. We started planning for competitions, gigs, opportunities to perform together more often, and it got more and more serious,” Milena said.
“Eventually we decided to move down to Houston together to study at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music from 2011 to 2013. It was a clear sign of how committed we all were to this path.”
What makes their sound so distinctive is the blending of supporting voices to reinforce the melodic themes.
“Blending sounds in a quartet is somewhat counterintuitive. Whoever has the melody plays it with the spirituality or emotions that they feel, and the rest of us try to create a different but non-competing sound,” Milena explained.
“We fill out the chords in such a way that you can hear everything, while still allowing the melody to pierce through in a three-dimensional way, which is how we think of and visualize sounds and textures in the music.”
The beauty of youth is that it is a time where you can take risks and pursue the most interesting problems to the utmost, and in the process create something that also has resonance beyond your immediate circle. The Dover Quartet is a model of what serendipity, the pursuit of artistic excellence, and a good dose of steady hard work can achieve.
The young Dover Quartet is adjusting to the life of an in-demand classical ensemble, balancing the maturing relationships of the members as family and also business colleagues, their musical lives are irreversibly transformed.
As their story unfolds, they are connecting with audiences one city at a time. They are an assurance to chamber music lovers that there are indeed artists devoted to bringing out the best of this art form. They are also representative of a new generation of classical artists all over the world that are claiming this music as their own.
In April 2015, Dover Quartet will be at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music for a week-long residency. In the meantime, don’t miss their debut performance in one of the longest standing and most prestigious chamber music series in Toronto.