It’s a Saturday night in August, and violinist Geoff Nuttall is on the phone from San Francisco. He’s just flown in from somewhere, and he’s jet-lagged – but not too tired to talk about the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
“We want to connect to the simple idea that music can be powerful,” he says, articulating the artistic vision of the ensemble. “Our goal is to try to make people gasp at the right moment, and feel sad at that right time. That’s a basic concept, but it keeps us going. We don’t want people to go away and say, ‘They were really in tune.’ That’s the kiss of death. We want people to talk about how the music made them feel.”
The St. Lawrence Quartet turns 21 this year – a “coming of age,” if you will. There have been a couple of personnel changes along the way (more on that later), and a few changes of location: from Toronto to New York, and finally to Stanford University, in California. And although the quartet is one of those groups that seems to have been blessed with a meteoric rise, from Nuttall’s perspective it’s been a long, slow struggle to get to where the St. Lawrences are now.