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Thalea String Quartet receives Fischoff educator award

Thalea String Quartet

The Thalea String Quartet (Norfolk '19) has been selected as the winner of Fischoff’s 2021 Ann Divine Educator Award which recognizes the educational outreach work of Fischoff Competition alumni who have demonstrated outstanding and imaginative programming for children and youth in the United States. Named in honor of longtime Fischoff Executive Director Ann Divine, the award honors musicians who have established professional careers in chamber music, and have proven their ability to successfully build a career in both chamber music performance and outreach education. 

As winner of the Ann Divine Educator Award, Thalea String Quartet – Christopher Whitley (violin), Kumiko Sakamoto (violin), Luis Bellorín (viola) and Titilayo Ayangade (cello) – will receive an endorsement from Fischoff, a cash award, and a weeklong residency in November 2021 to conduct workshops and masterclasses, and to perform interactive concerts in schools, community centers and libraries. The week will include performances of Fischoff’s signature Stories and Music: S.A.M. I Am program, which musically reenacts a children’s book. In addition, Thalea will connect with area students virtually throughout the academic year as they introduce chamber music to new audiences, particularly children and teens who would otherwise not have access to these opportunities.

Formed in 2014 at the Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival in Italy, the Thalea String Quartet has performed recitals across Europe, China, the United States, and Canada, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center, Massey Hall, and Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall. The Thalea String Quartet were top prize winners at both the 2018 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the 2018 Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition, and were named the Ernst Stiefel Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts for the 2019/20 season. They served as quartet-in-residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, University of Texas at Austin, and as Associated Artists at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Waterloo, Belgium. Thalea currently is the Doctoral Fellowship Quartet at the University of Maryland.

“Just when I thought our society was falling apart, along came the Thalea Quartet’s vivid, expansive performances! Their beautifully textured sound is enveloped by thrilling individual brilliance and highlighted by a rare, magnetic quartet sense emanating from every note they play. Hearing the Thalea Quartet makes me feel very happy and gives me hope for the future. They are great ambassadors for music.” – David Harrington, Kronos Quartet

Fischoff's Educator Award Residency is generously made possible by Lead Sponsor The Judd Leighton Foundation, Inc.