Castalian String Quartet

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Castalian String Quartet


The November 15 concert by the Castalian String Quartet was postponed due to travel and transportation concerns within San Francisco.

We have rescheduled them for a joint performance with Stephen Hough on March 5.
More information on the rescheduled performance…

Sini Simonen, violin* Daniel Roberts, violins Ruth Gibson, viola* Steffan Morris, cello

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 |  7:30pm

Herbst TheatreVenue Information


* Sean Lee and Natalie Loughran have graciously agreed to perform with the Castalian Quartet during Sini Simonen’s and Ruth Gibson’s maternity leave.

About This Performance

In an ingenious chain of inspirations spanning 220 years, the Castalian String Quartet’s program—and the Turnage commission featured on it—mark the 100th anniversary of Janáček’s Kreutzer Sonata quartet. For his new quartet, Turnage returned to words by the Beethoven sonata’s original dedicatee for inspiration. The Castalian Quartet are “a feisty group, with a real personality and strong interpretative ideas” (The Guardian).



JANÁČEK: String Quartet No. 1 Kreutzer Sonata
MARK-ANTHONY TURNAGE: Awake for Sting Quartet (composed for Castalian Quartet, premiering 2023)
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in B-Flat, Op. 130, with Grosse Fuge ending, Op. 133

Performance Sponsors

Bruce and Carolyn Lowenthal

Artist Information

Performer Biography

Since its formation in 2011, the London-based Castalian Quartet has distinguished itself as one of the most dynamic, sophisticated young string quartets performing today. They are an Artist in Residence at the Wigmore Hall in London and are the inaugural Hans Keller String Quartet in Residence at the Oxford University Faculty of Music. They are also the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2019 Young Artists Award.

The Castalian Quartet will tour North America in the 2023–24 season with performances in Dallas, San Francisco, Louisville, Chicago, Houston, and many other cities. Another highlight will be their collaboration with pianist Stephen Hough, who will join them for concerts in Costa Mesa, Carmel and Napa, CA; New York, NY; Rockport, MA; and Washington, D.C.

The Quartet works with many living composers, including recent premieres of works by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Charlotte Bray, and Edmund Finnis. They have also established a strong presence abroad, with performances of the complete Haydn Op.76 Quartets at Wigmore Hall; at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Berlin Philharmonic, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Paris Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus, Montreal’s Salle Bourgie, Carnegie Hall, the Spoleto USA Festival, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. They have played at the Heidelberger Frühling, East Neuk, Kuhmo, Edinburgh, Lockenhaus, and Banff International Festivals. Further afield, they undertook tours of China and Colombia.

In spring 2022, the Castalian Quartet released its first recording, Between Two Worlds (Delphian), featuring works by Thomas Adès, Beethoven, and first violinist Sini Simonen’s own arrangements of early works by Orlando de Lassus and John Dowland.

The Castalian Quartet studied with Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet) at the Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media, graduating with a Master’s degree. In addition to the above, awards include Third Prize at the 2016 Banff Quartet Competition and First Prize at the 2015 Lyon Chamber Music Competition. The Quartet was selected by Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) in 2016. They have received coaching from Simon Rowland-Jones, David Waterman and Isabel Charisius.

Their name is derived from the Castalian Spring in the ancient city of Delphi. According to Greek mythology, the nymph Castalia transformed herself into a fountain to evade Apollo’s pursuit, thus creating a source of poetic inspiration for all who drink from her waters.

American violinist Sean Lee is one of few violinists who dare to perform the complete 24 Caprices of Niccolò Paganini in concert. A recipient of Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Career Grant, Lee has captured the attention of audiences worldwide, with performances described by the New York Times as “breathtakingly beautiful”.

Lee’s ongoing educational YouTube series, Paganini POV, utilizes modern technology to share a unique perspective on violin playing. In January 2022, Lee and pianist Peter Dugan released selections from Niccolò Paganini’s 24 Caprices as arranged by Robert Schumann, as an EP and video series titled Paganini X Schumann: 9 Caprices, after giving the first performance of the complete 24 Caprices in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s 52-year history.

As a soloist, Lee has performed with orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony, Utah Symphony, and Jerusalem Symphony, and as a recitalist at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Vienna’s Konzerthaus. An avid chamber musician as well, Lee performs with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, both at Lincoln Center as well as on tour.

Born in Los Angeles, Lee studied in Southern California with Robert Lipsett of the Colburn Conservatory, and with violin legend Ruggiero Ricci. Lee then studied at the Juilliard School with the internationally acclaimed Itzhak Perlman. As an educator, Lee has taught for over a decade at both the Perlman Music Program and the Pre-College Division of The Juilliard School. Lee performs on violins made by Samuel Zygmuntowicz in 1995 and David Bague in 1999, with bows made circa 1890 by Joseph Arthur Vigneron and circa 1910 by W. E. Hill & Sons. Lee currently resides in the Capital Region of New York, and enjoys exploring photography, chess, and electronic sound synthesis in his free time.

Twenty-five year old American violist Natalie Loughran is quickly establishing herself as one of the most versatile young artists of our time. Natalie was awarded First Prize at the 2021 Primrose International Viola Competition, along with the Audience Award, as well as the BIPOC Composer Prize for her arrangement and performance of William Grant Still’s Mother and Child. She has also appeared as a finalist for the 2020 Young Concert Artist Auditions, and was awarded a special prize for her performance of the Bowen Viola Sonata in C Minor at the Tertis International Viola Competition. Natalie has also been awarded with the William Schuman prize for her outstanding leadership and achievement in music, from the Juilliard School.

A former member of the Kila Quartet, Natalie is a sensitive and passionate chamber musician. She has appeared on WQXR’s series, Midday Masterpieces, and has performed extensively at Marlboro, Yellow Barn, The Perlman Music Program Chamber Workshop, Robert Mann’s String Quartet Institute, and Kronberg’s Chamber Music Connects the World. Natalie has collaborated with renowned musicians across the United States and Europe, including The Doric Quartet, Itzhak Perlman, Gidon Kremer, Mitsuko Uchida, Christian Tetzlaff, Tabea Zimmermann, and Nobuko Imai.

Natalie earned her B.M. and M.M. in Viola Performance at The Juilliard School, under the tutelage of Roger Tapping, Misha Amory, and Hsin-Yun Huang, where she was a proud recipient of the Kovner Fellowship. Natalie is currently pursuing her professional studies diploma at the Kronberg Academy with Tabea Zimmermann.

Artist Video

Castalian String Quartet Plays Quartet in D Minor, Op. 76, No. 2—I. Allegro by Haydn