• Photo Credit: Eric Cheng

    Nicholas Travani, Rachel Shapiro, Greg Luce and Alan Richardson rehearse the fast-paced third movement of Christopher Theofandis’s Ariel Ascending.

Aeolus Quartet Goes Pro

Championed by Stanford’s own St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Aeolus belongs to the best of the new generation of string quartets

When members of the Aeolus Quartet arrive at Stanford in April for a performance at Bing Concert Hall, they might as well be coming home. Starting with their first visit to campus in 2010, their mentors, the musicians of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, have welcomed them back for an alphabet of programs—ESQP, EPGY and the SLSQ Seminar—while championing their development as musicians and members of the broader community.

“The SLSQ brings together the most wonderful assortment of music lovers. The result is an inspiring environment high in creative energy, in which every participant is bringing something new to the table or stage,” said second violinist Rachel Shapiro of their time spent at the Chamber Music Seminar. “It is a pleasure to return to perform for our friends in the Stanford community.”

The April 6 concert is the culmination of the 2012 John Lad Prize following the Aeolus Quartet’s participation in Stanford’s Emerging String Quartet Program (ESQP). During the residency, the ensemble had the opportunity to interact extensively with a variety of audiences and communities both on- and off-campus. The young musicians have become known for their highly innovative and engaging outreach programs. For example, Aeolus built a program to familiarize elementary school students with the sounds of individual instruments and to encourage them to listen and react to different types of sounds by naming colors they hear or emotions they feel.

The quartet’s innovative attitude carries into the practice room where the members are game for trying unusual things. Both Aeolus Quartet and the SLSQ have taken advantage of a chance to collaborate with photographer Eric Cheng. For the past decade Cheng has taken a break from his globetrotting career shooting underwater photographs to play cello during the summer seminar at Stanford, occasionally showing up with the latest technology with which the musicians can experiment. He introduced the quartet to the GoPro cameras in 2012.

Originally designed to be worn by surfers riding waves, the GoPro HERO captures sound and high-quality video from any angle. Both quartets have donned the cameras on their heads while rehearsing in order to capture the cooperation of the ensemble as well as the individual viewpoint of each musician.

SLSQ performed the last movement of Haydn’s Opus 74 #1 wearing GoPros during an impromptu concert after Cheng gave a talk on photography at the Summer seminar. The result is this fun if frenetic video.

After the April concert, the Aeolus Quartet musicians returns to Juilliard where they are the Resident Graduate String Quartet. The ensemble was inspired to name itself after the Greek god Aeolus, a single spirit who unites the four winds. We trust the winds will blow Aeolus west again.