Steve Garden

The New Zealand String Quartet
Helene Pohl (violin)
Douglas Beilman
Gillian Ansell
Rolf Gjelsten


With its dynamic performing style, eloquent communication and beautiful sound, the New Zealand String Quartet has forged a major career in the busy international chamber music field, earning the acclaim of critics and the delighted response of audiences. The Quartet has particularly distinguished itself through imaginative programming, insightful interpretations of the string quartet repertoire including cycles of composers' music from Mozart to Berg, and the development of an international audience for important new works from New Zealand composers.

Career highlights have included acclaimed debuts in London at Wigmore Hall, in New York at the prestigious Frick Collection and in the famous concert series in Washington’s Library of Congress Coolidge Auditorium. International tours and festival successes have taken the group to Canada and the US for twice-yearly visits as well as to Mexico, Curacao, Korea, Australia, England, Scotland, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Much-loved by audiences in New Zealand, the engaging musicians of this country’s premier chamber ensemble present over eighty concerts here and overseas each year.

Innovative collaborations undertaken by the New Zealand String Quartet have included performances of concertos with the BBC Scottish Symphony, the Auckland Chamber Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony. They have performed with internationally renowned artists such as Colin Carr, Anton Kuerti, James Campbell, Stephen Dann, Frans Helmerson,  Alexander Lonquich, Piers Lane, Nobuko Imai, Hariolf Schlichtig, Christoph Richter, Atar Arad, and Peter Nágy; the Lafayette, Lindsay, Michelangelo, Pražák and Goldner quartets, as well as jazz greats Mike Nock, Jim Hall and Wayne Marshall.

The New Zealand String Quartet has recently brought its interpretative skill to a major project to record all of Mendelssohn’s string quartets in a three volume CD set for Naxos, with volume 3 released in May 2010. These recordings have been greeted by glowing reviews including high praise from Gramophone Magazine. The group’s extensive discography includes works from the standard quartet repertoire by composers such as Bartók, Ravel, Debussy, Beethoven, Dvorák, Berg and Wolf, as well as the premiere recording of the remarkable Zoltan Székely quartet, and numerous works by acclaimed New Zealand composers. The Quartet’s most recent release is a CD of string quartets by New Zealand composers on the Atoll label, Notes from a Journey, which includes music by John Psathas, Jack Body, Ross Harris, Gareth Farr and Michael Norris.

Dedicated teachers as well as performers, the group has been quartet-in-residence at Victoria University of Wellington, now the New Zealand School of Music, since 1991. In North America they have been artists/teachers-in-residence at the Banff Centre, Quartet Fest West, and The Quartet Program at Bucknell, Pennsylvania. The current line-up have played together as a full-time professional ensemble for sixteen years.



“…the Kiwis rivaled the excellence of leading international string quartetsthey let the lyrical music ebb and flow with warm tone and beautiful balance.  The ensemble was cohesive, the energy positive.  The melodic dialogues came across like meaningful exchanges of wordless thoughts.”
- Cleveland Plain Dealer

…fluid and energetic…uncommon eloquence…”
- The New York Times

“…thrilling to hear….an uncommonly fine performance.”
- The Washington Post

“The New Zealand String Quartet showed unsurpassed technique and dramatic energy in every respect.”
- La Repubblica, Florence, Italy

“The New Zealand String Quartet plays as if it has nothing to prove.  The New Zealanders gave Debussy’s G minor Quartet a dreamy, shivering elegance without losing rhythmic vigor or flow.”
- The Washington Post

“…sublime playing … expressive, creative power and unrestrained life energy…”
- Goettinger Tageblatt, Germany

the audience got goose bumps……. the quartet made their debut in Mexico yesterday a memorable event, carved with emotional depth”
- Reforma, Mexico

“…If it’s chamber music excitement you’re after, then welcome to the New Zealand String Quartet fan club.” - New Zealand Listener

“We might have been listening to any of the world’s foremost string quartets…a performance of blazing intensity and thorough commitment, over and above its excellence of technique.”
- The Age, Melbourne, Australia


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