Three of our quartet’s members, violinists Justin DeFilippis, Angela Bae and cellist Russell Houston, had enormously wonderful experiences at the Taos School of Music in the summers of 2017 and 2018. Our eight-week experiences shaped not only our love and deep admiration for the music but also the craft of working together and bonding together for a common goal. Although only two of us at a time played in groups together at Taos, in the fall of 2018 we decided to play together while we were all studying at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, and along with terrific violist Benjamin Zannoni, we formed the Balourdet String Quartet. The name of our ensemble is a nod to Taos, as it derives from the surname of a chef who once worked at the Hotel St. Bernard.
The lessons and insights we gained from our one-of-a-kind coaches and colleagues at Taos continue to influence us in our work every day. We naturally expanded on the intensive rehearsal process, as well as close and familiar social bonding, which we shared at Taos and built a group rapport that became year round. As we began to spend more and more time together every day, it became clear that the group was an investment in each other and the great string quartet music that we wanted to pursue together for many years. After a summer of hard work together in 2019, we won the 2nd Prize in the Nielsen International Chamber Music Competition in Denmark, and in spring of 2020, the Gold Medal of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, held virtually because of the pandemic. A natural next step for us to further ourselves was apply for the two-year graduate residency at the New England Conservatory, where we are now currently very much enjoying and trying to make the most of our time in Boston learning from great faculty including Paul Katz and members of the TSoM faculty Borromeo String Quartet.
We hope to be lucky enough to share great music together and with audiences for years to come, and make a personal statement with our music making, engaging with the vitality of composers and their music old and new. Most importantly, we always want to hold dear to us the skills and love of music that the great musicians and atmosphere at Taos gifted to us.
Thanks so much!! Best wishes on a great summer!
Justin and all of us!