Thalea String Quartet Wins 2021 Ann Divine Educator Award


Notre Dame, IN (March 1, 2021) – The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association is delighted to announce that the Thalea String Quartet has been selected as the winner of Fischoff’s 2021 Ann Divine Educator Award. This national award recognizes the educational outreach work of Fischoff Competition alumni who have demonstrated outstanding and imaginative programming for children and youth in the United States. It 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.

Named in honor of longtime Fischoff Executive Director Ann Divine, this award recognizes her visionary leadership in cultivating community outreach through chamber music. As winner of the Ann Divine Educator Award, Thalea String Quartet will receive a coveted 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.

The Thalea String Quartet, comprised of Christopher Whitley (violin), Kumiko Sakamoto (violin), Luis Bellorín (viola) and Titilayo Ayangade (cello), prides itself on the diversity of its collaborations which have included dance companies, stage directors, aerial artists, pop bands, and dozens of up and coming and established composers. 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.

Fischoff Executive Director Kara Kane, and the entire Fischoff team, are excited for the return of the Thalea String Quartet to South Bend and the surrounding area. “Each year Fischoff alumni fill our city with the joy of their music and talent, and we are always left wanting more – the demand in our community is typically more than Fischoff’s capacity. We are delighted that, through the leadership funding of the Judd Leighton Foundation, we are able to bring in the Thalea String Quartet to share firsthand the life lessons that chamber music instills – the art of listening, the rewards of collaboration, and the amazing things we can achieve through teamwork. Not only are Thalea’s concert performances thoughtful, bold and full of warmth, their work in the classroom and in the community is equally as transformative. Thalea is a perfect partner to help spread the powerful joy and life lessons of chamber music throughout our community.”

“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. 

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Contact: Kara Kane, Executive Director