NEWS RELEASE - PSQS Virtual Spring Benefit

Release date: Immediately

Date: May 24, 2021

Subject: Portland String Quartet Society Unveils New Learning Fund at “Flourish & Bloom” Spring Benefit:

Virtual Concert Program Will Feature Performances and Testimonials from Acclaimed Former Students


Portland, ME - On June 6th, 2021, the Portland String Quartet Society will host a virtual benefit, “Flourish and Bloom,” specially designed to support its new Learning Fund, which will be devoted to teaching Maine students of all ages about the joys of chamber music and collaborative musical performance.


The benefit will showcase performances by professional musicians whose careers were established because of having studied with the Portland String Quartet. The program includes exciting performances by Callie Brennan, principal first violinist of the Fort Collins Symphony; Wilhelmina Smith, solo cellist and artistic director of the Salt Bay Chamberfest; Matthew Szemela, assistant concert master of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra; and many others.


In addition, the musicians will relate how their time studying with PSQ members as young adults in Maine planted seeds of inspiration and creativity that grew into the musical careers they have now – positions in renowned orchestras, as impresarios of exciting contemporary music, and, in many cases, as music educators themselves.


“The enthusiasm from former PSQ students has been thrilling,” said Burt Helm, Board Vice President of the Portland String Quartet Society, who co-produced the video benefit with fellow board member Elizabeth Dodson. “Time and again, these performers told me that the PSQ hadn’t simply been helpful teachers while they were growing up — the quartet’s workshops and lessons were the whole reason they decided to go into music.”


“Maine has produced world-class classical musicians for decades,” said Helm. “I was amazed to learn that for many of these violinists, violists, and cellists, it was the PSQ that planted the first seeds of inspiration.”


PSQS Board President Shirley Helfrich said “the Learning Fund was established in 2020 to support chamber music coaching, PSQ workshops, and ‘Welcome to Chamber Music’ performances geared toward complete beginners and those who have never heard a string quartet perform before.”


Tickets can be purchased on the PSQS website For further information (207) 761-1522 or



Release date: Immediately

Date: February 9, 2021

Subject: Portland String Quartet Society Learning Fund

Further information: Shirley Helfrich, President, Portland String Quartet Society (207) 774-5144 or David Myers-Wakeman, Executive Director, (207) 761-1522


Portland, ME – The Portland String Quartet Society announces the establishment of the “PSQS Learning Fund.”  First violinist, Dean Stein, called it “a natural extension of decades of educational work by the Portland String Quartet. We are building resources to increase access for all to both the pleasures and knowledge of great music.” The fund was conceived to honor founding member and violist Julia Adams, who recently retired from the Quartet after 51 years.

The purpose of the Learning Fund is twofold: to ensure the continuation of existing opportunities and to create new learning opportunities for all age groups. The Learning Fund will support aspiring musicians who may need financial assistance by providing:


1. Student scholarships for the two-week PSQ Chamber Music workshop


2. Adult scholarships for the “Chamber Music by the Sea” workshop


3. Scholarships for student and amateur chamber ensembles to receive regular coachings or master classes by the PSQ


4. Free tickets to PSQ series concerts

5. Free tickets to attend “Welcome to Chamber Music” lecture demonstrations


6. Educational outreach programs and residencies performed by the PSQ in Maine and New England


7. A free online library of educational videos by the PSQ


The new online library will feature the PSQ’s explorations of the vast and diverse repertoire for string quartet, as well as focusing on the art of ensemble playing in a chamber group.


Since its founding in 1969, the members of the Portland String Quartet have taught countless students and ensembles through their workshops, residencies at colleges (including 20 years as Artists in Residence at Colby College), and teaching positions at Bowdoin and Bates Colleges. They have performed chamber music concerts in Portland, throughout the State of Maine, and 30 countries the world over.  Over the years hundreds of youth concerts have served as a major focus of the PSQ's dedication to educational outreach in public and private schools and Maine’s colleges and universities.


Donations may be made on the PSQ web site and are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. The PSQS is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation and serves as the support organization for the PSQ.

For further information email or call the PSQS Society at


(207) 761-1522 or visit their website