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Afiara Quartet

Toronto, CA         

The Afiara Quartet is a dynamic, young string quartet, described as "a revelation" (Le Presse) with performances balancing "intensity and commitment" with "frequent moments of tenderness" (Montreal Gazette). The Quartet is the Glenn Gould School Fellowship Quartet at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and is winner of the Young Canadian Musicians Award, Concert Artist Guild International Competition in New York, and prizes at the Munich ARD and Banff International String Quartet Competitions, including the latter’s Szekely Prize for the best interpretation of Beethoven. The Afiara is an ensemble for the 21st-century and seeks to be a string quartet defined by its relentless pursuit of beauty, meaning, and growth as musicians and ambassadors for the genre. 

The Afiara has performed throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia, at such venues as Carnegie Hall’s Zankel and Weill Halls, the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Library of Congress in DC, Sao Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art, Pro Musica of San Miguel de Allende, London’s Wigmore Hall, Austria’s Esterhazy Palace, Munich’s Prinz Regenten Theatre, Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw, and the Royal Library in Copenhagen.

Recent highlights include the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with Jörg Widmann, the Washington Performing Arts Society, San Francisco Performances, the Ravinia Festival, and return engagements with Festival of the Sound and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival.

They have commissioned and premiered works by Christos Hatzis (String Quartet No. 3), Uri Caine (Piano Quintet, with composer at the keyboard), Kelly-Marie Murphy (Blues and the Principles of Excitation), Dan Becker (Lockdown), Brett Abigana (String Quartet No. 2), Patrick Carrabre, and others. They have performed with the Juilliard, Alexander, and Cecilia String Quartets; flutist Robert Aiken; violists Atar Arad, Barry Shiffman, and Michael Tree; cellists Denis Brott, Joel Krosnick, and Shauna Rolston; clarinetist James Campbell; pianists Jane Coop, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Stephen Prutsman, and Anton Kuerti; jazz pianist Uri Caine; and the turntable artist, Kid Koala.


They were the graduate resident string quartet at The Juilliard School from 2009-2011 and the Morrison Fellowship Quartet-in-Residence at San Francisco State University from 2007-2009. The quartet receives tremendous support from the Banff Centre, where the Afiara will serve as resident faculty January 2014.

In an effort to broaden and cultivate a depth of community, the Afiara have a new programming initiative called "The Playlist" where the Quartet curates a 50-minute program that is performed without pause, consisting of original works and arrangements, from a movement of Mozart’s Dissonance to Steve Reich’s "Clapping Music" to Osvaldo Golijov and back to late Beethoven. With commentary and anecdotes, the Quartet animates the program toward the inclusion of those getting to know the ensemble and its repertoire. They also have a comprehensive program called "Growing with the Music" that is specially designed for school-aged children which is being successfully implemented with Sistema Toronto and Axis Music, programs for at-risk youth.

Recognizing the vital importance of music education and advocacy, the Afiara Quartet pursues its own teaching work, in visiting residencies at the University of Alberta, Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, as faculty at Chamber Music of the Rockies, Indiana University Summer String Academy, and Canada’s Southern Ontario Chamber Music Institute, Denmark’s OrkesterEfterskolen, and Brazil’s Escola de Musica Estado de Sao Paulo. 

Formed in 2006, the Afiara String Quartet takes its name from the Spanish fiar, meaning “to trust”, a basic element vital to the depth and joy of its music-making. Afiara is an ensemble rooted in trust: a trust within the group in all the facets of music-making; a trust the audience must have for us to communicate a message that is true and meaningful; a trust that is essential in the adventure of being transported.