The Michelangelo Quartet was formed in 2002 by musicians distinguished as soloists, chamber players, and teachers who shared a desire to play the greatest repertoire together. Mihaela Martin from Romania, Russian-born Daniel Austrich, Japanese-born Nobuko Imai, and Frans Helmerson from Sweden have each won many prizes at international competitions and worked with Martha Argerich, Yuri Bashmet, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Itzhak Perlman, and Sir András Schiff. Together, they bring to the string quartet repertoire a wealth of experience and wisdom, as well as the benefit of many years of music-making at the highest level.
Mihaela Martin was the first-ever winner of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis and teaches at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin. Daniel Austrich won prizes at the Pablo Sarasate and Paganini competitions, and teaches in Germany. Nobuko Imai is one of today’s most distinguished violists, and holds professorships in Amsterdam and Madrid. Frans Helmerson combines his love of solo and chamber music with his career as a teacher, holding positions at the Kronberg Academy and Barenboim-Said Akademie. All are established concert soloists with wide-ranging musical experiences that enrich their chamber music performances and their audiences.
Reviewers have written of their ferocious intensity of concentration and their towering virtuosity and stamina, recognizing the exceptional insight and ability this ensemble brings to all its performances.
The quartet plays regularly in Europe and Japan, and has performed in major halls such as the Pierre Boulez Saal (Berlin), Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (Paris), Royal Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), and Tonhalle (Zurich), and at festivals including Edinburgh, Kuhmo, Jerusalem, Delft, Verbier, and Pablo Casals. The ensemble’s projects have included a complete Beethoven cycle in Scotland and Japan, as well as a residency at the Lammermuir Festival. In the US, they have performed at Carnegie Hall and the Library of Congress, among other venues.
Stephen Waarts’s musical voice is establishing him as a favorite of audiences in North America and Europe. With a voracious appetite to explore the wealth of repertoire written for the violin, he has already performed more than 30 standard and rarely performed concertos.
Upcoming highlights include returns to the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Philharmonie Zuidnederland, and debuts with the Orchestre National de Belgique, Szczecin Philharmonic, Slovak Philharmonic, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, and Oulu Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Waarts will perform with Martin Helmchen as part of the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester’s concert series at Mount Pilatus, Sir András Schiff during the pianist’s 2018–2019 residency at the Konzerthaus Berlin, and Tabea Zimmermann at the Beethoven-Haus Bonn. He also will give recitals in Japan, France, Italy, and Belgium.
Mr. Waarts recently appeared at Lincoln Center as part of the 2018 Mostly Mozart Festival, and made debuts with the hr-Sinfonieorchester under Christoph Eschenbach, Kansas City Symphony under David Zinman, Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, and Munich Symphony Orchestra. In 2017, he made his New York concerto debut with Orchestra of St. Luke’s at the Young Concert Artists annual gala, which received critical acclaim in both The New York Times and The Strad.
In June 2018, Mr. Waarts recorded his debut recital album for Rubicon Classics with pianist Gabriele Carcano, featuring works by Schumann and Bartók, to be released this month. He also will collaborate on a Hindemith recording project with Christoph Eschenbach for the Ondine label.
Mr. Waarts’s success at the 2015 Queen Elisabeth Competition, where he secured the majority vote of the television audience, raised his international visibility. In March 2017, he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. He also has been awarded the Mozart-Gesellschaft Dortmund scholarship and first prize at the Menuhin Competition. In 2013 (at age 17), he won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.
Mr. Waarts studies at the Kronberg Academy under Mihaela Martin, and recently graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied under Aaron Rosand. He has also worked with Itzhak Perlman at the Perlman Music Program and Li Lin at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.