Thalea inspires despite unique obstacles
Caramoor’s Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence program is a one-year residency designed to both advance the reputation and career of a young quartet and enhance the life of the Caramoor community. In addition to presenting multiple performances at Caramoor throughout the year, the quartet also provides educational outreach to young string players, both in public and private schools, through a program called Student Strings. This year’s String Quartet-in-Residence is the Thalea String Quartet, which began its residency at Caramoor in the fall of 2019. Over the course of eight days, they visited eight local high schools and middle schools, and presented a full-length concert at Caramoor. As part of its school outreach, the Thalea performed for over 300 students and gave sectionals and in-class workshops for student orchestras and ensembles.
With the timing of the coronavirus pandemic, the Thalea’s spring residency has been met with new unforeseen new challenges. As social distancing has kept most of us at home over the past few months, we have become forced to primarily work and see each other virtually. As such, we have gratefully found new ways to still share the joys of music. The Thalea saw this challenge as an exciting opportunity to develop an innovative online program for young string students. This program includes three sections: Pre-Recorded Video Presentations, Interactive Learning Sessions, and Culminating Activity. The series of five pre-recorded videos explores the individual roles of each quartet member while delving into a movement of Haydn’s Emperor String Quartet. The first four videos each highlight a different quartet member and his or her ensemble part, leading up to the final video putting it all together for a performance of the entire movement together as a quartet.
Follow along with the videos below and share with any young string student in your life!
Combining the helpful feedback from teachers and creative ideas from the quartet, 10 different school groups were provided the opportunity to work directly with the Thalea String Quartet over the course of 5 days. The Thalea spent this time leading masterclasses, sectionals, and providing their favorite rehearsal and practice tips. They also led Q&As with each group. Approximately 150 students participated in the Interactive Learning Sessions. The Culminating Activity is a way for students to respond to the Pre-recorded Videos and Interactive Learning Sessions. The Thalea challenged students to submit video responses to their teachers sharing what they learned during the first two sections.
Through their rooted sense of musicianship, enthusiasm, captivating personality, and impassioned commitment to share their love for music, the Thalea String Quartet proved to be highly successful educators, garnering a great deal of appreciation and admiration from students and teachers alike.
Below are just a few responses from participating teachers:
“I just wanted to say thank you for such an amazing masterclass with the Thalea String Quartet — my students won’t stop talking about it! They are truly inspired.”
“Thank you so much for the amazing workshop yesterday! My kids loved it and I’m getting so many emails from parents who appreciated the experience.”
“Thank you so much for organizing the event for the WCYO students — they LOVED it! So many students were inspired and the comments from Thalea refreshed my own perspective on the ensemble as well. They had an awesome concert and we used a lot of the tips they gave us.”
We are extremely grateful to the Thalea String Quartet for providing students with this truly unique experience and thank you to all the schools, teachers, and students who participated!