Where it all began..
The Portland String Quartet has had an enormous impact locally, regionally and internationally since its inception in 1969. Beginning as The Portland Symphony String Quartet (PSSQ), the quartet members became not only principal players in the Portland Symphony Orchestra, they established teaching studios, school music positions and chamber music concerts serving the greater Portland area and the State of Maine full time. This became a model for orchestras the size of the PSO nationwide. Maestro Paul Vermel was the visionary for those first years of the quartet. Hundreds of youth concerts in the public and private schools and at each campus of the University of Maine System were and continue to be a major part of the PSQ's dedication to educational outreach.
A history of excellence..
The Quartet helped to establish the Damariscotta Arts Council with an annual concert series in Damariscotta, Maine. String Quartet Workshops continuously over the last 37 years at Sugarloaf Mountain, Colby College and now at Saint Joseph's College in Standish, Maine, bring students together to study and perform chamber music from throughout the State, the U.S. and abroad. Particularly important in the quartet's international work is its close relationship with the Orquesta Juvenil Simon Bolivar - beginning in the 1970s and continuing through 2003. Now known as El Sistema, this program under the direction of Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, utilized the expertise of the Portland String Quartet with multiple concerts and workshops in Venezuela. Now students from this outstanding program come to Maine for the quartet's summer workshops. These talented students are currently the students of former PSQ Workshop "alumni" - - continuing the legacy of instruction and inspiration by the Portland String Quartet.
An evolutionary quartet..
They have received rave reviews from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, the Washington Star and Washington Post, the Miami Herald, the Portland Press Herald, the Maine Sunday Telegram, as well as from numerous critics for newspapers, recording magazines and organizations including the Maine Arts Commission and the Paul Foundation. Their discography includes over two dozen recordings which span the literature from Bach's Art of the Fugue, Beethoven, Schubert and Dvorak to contemporary composers such as Allen Levines and Dr. Peter Ré. Of particular note are their multiple disc recordings of the chamber music of Walter Piston, George Chadwick and Ernest Bloch, for which they received Best Recording accolades from the New York Times and the Boston Globe. They have premiered works by Norman Dello Joio, Daniel Godfrey, William Matthews, Jonathan Hallstrom, Gerry Bowder and Elliott Schwartz - to name a few.
A vision for the future..
In 2022, for the first time in its history, the PSQ begins a concert
season without a single founding member. Led by first violinist Dean Stein, who joined in 2013, and violist Brianna Fischler, who became a permanent member of the quartet last year, this 54th season will be a critical one for the quartet. Each concert will feature two new guest artists joining the quartet. Some are longtime friends and collaborators; others are alluring strangers. Each will bring voices and perspectives that spur the ensemble in exciting new directions. Each concert’s programming will follow suit. Expect classics mixed with bold new entrants to the quartet repertoire. The new players’ fresh perspectives make them all the more exciting. Welcome to this Season of Change, the 54th season of the PSQ.