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ACJW: Where Are They Now?

Violinist Owen Dalby, who was an Ensemble ACJW fellow from 2007–2010, recently joined the acclaimed St. Lawrence String Quartet as its newest member. On October 29, 2015, Owen performed for the first time at Carnegie Hall as part of the ensemble, and writes about the special experience of performing in Zankel Hall again after the fellowship.

I remember being a college student when Zankel Hall opened in 2003, and throughout my undergraduate days I would try to catch a concert there every time I came to town. In the years since, I have performed there many times, both as an ACJW fellow from 2007–2010, and as a busy freelancer in New York City. There’s an electricity to any concert in Zankel that can’t be explained by the programming alone. Zankel Hall has both an elegance and edgy New York feel to it, where you can feel the musical story of today’s New York City being written. I love playing there, and my most recent return to Zankel Hall was perhaps the most special to me. It came a few days before Halloween, and this time was with my new ensemble, the St Lawrence String Quartet.

I joined the SLSQ last year, uprooting from Brooklyn and relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area, where the quartet is based. Though we rehearse and teach at Stanford, the quartet tours all over the world, so luckily it means I never have to wait too long between visits to the Big Apple. Though of course it was not strictly my Carnegie Hall debut, performing there as a fully-fledged member of a string quartet I have idolized since I was a teenager made it feel like my first time.

St. Lawrence String Quartet (Stephanie Berger)
The St. Lawrence String Quartet performing in Zankel Hall. Photography: Stephanie Berger

Before the show, I heard a knock at my dressing room door—it was Clive Gillinson dropping by to wish me luck. We performed Haydn’s hugely influential F-Minor Quartet, Op. 20, No. 5; the New York premiere of John Adams’s Second Quartet; and Beethoven’s earth-shattering Op. 131 in C-sharp minor. In other words, the history of the string quartet genre in a nutshell! This music is deeply important to me, and I couldn’t have been prouder to return to my old stomping grounds to make this kind of artistic statement. The quartet has its own roots in New York, so the audience was packed with our friends.

Meanwhile, John Schaefer and his crack team from WQXR made sure the energy of the night was captured and broadcast live, which can now be streamed online.

As I mature as a musician, the more closely I hold the friendships, associations, and memories made in this great place. This remarkable evening was both a career high-water mark and a homecoming for me—and it won’t be soon forgotten!

—Owen Dalby

Listen to the archived broadcast:

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