University of Alberta String Quartet
The University of Alberta String Quartet. Founded in 1969 as quartet-in-residence at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, with Thomas Rolston and Lawrence Fisher (violins), Michael Bowie (viola), and Claude Kenneson (cello). Fisher.(b Vinton, Ia, 20 Nov 1923) studied at the ESM with Jacques Gordon, and with Ivan Galamian. He performed in the Lyric String Quartet (USA), before teaching at the University of Alberta. In 1991 he was living in Victoria, BC. Bowie (b Hastings,Sussex, England 5 Mar 1933) studied at the RCM and in New York (in 1968) with Oscar Shumsky. He has taught at several western Canadian universities, has performed extensively as a violist and conductor, and has written articles on related subjects.
The quartet appeared throughout North America and Great Britain, and toured Japan, Hong Kong, and China during its final season in 1982. In Edmonton it appeared more than 200 times on the University of Alberta campus. Although the quartet made a specialty of contemporary works, it also performed the traditional repertoire and was often joined by guest artists including violinist Zoltán Székely, clarinetist Jack Brymer, oboist Dayna Fisher, cellists Eric Wilson and Cheryl Mellott, and pianists Helmut Brauss, Isobel Moore Rolston, William Tritt, Robert Stangeland, and Robert Pounder.
The quartet played Elizabeth Maconchy's Quartet No. 10 (premiere) and Jean Coulthard'sQuartet No. 2 'Threnody', at the 1972 Cheltenham Festival. Both works had been written for it. In Great Britain it also played in London, at the Menuhin School, at the Purbeck Festival in Dorset, and on tour in the Channel Islands. Also in 1972 it joined the Purcell String Quartet for the premiere of Coulthard's Octet: Twelve Essays on a Cantabile Theme, at the CBC Vancouver Festival. It gave integral performances of the six Bartók Quartets in 1974 in Edmonton, at the Banff SFA, and at the University of Missouri with guest lecturer Zoltán Székely.
In 1979 Norman Nelson succeeded Rolston as first violin when the latter became artistic director of the Banff SFA. Kenneson retired from the quartet in 1982 due to illness, and Malcolm Tait was cellist for the quartet's final tour in Asia. During the period of Nelson's tenure the quartet gave integral performances of the Benjamin Britten quartets, the first ensemble to do so in Canada. It also performed quartets by Freedman, Pentland, Pépin, Schafer, Somers, and Archer, whose String Quartet No. 3 was written for the ensemble on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the University of Alberta.