Apple Hill String Quartet
The Apple Hill String Quartet has earned accolades from around the world for their interpretive mastery of such traditional repertoire as Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, and Ravel — along with their special dedication to seldom heard masterworks and contemporary music. They have performed concerts extensively throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia as part of Apple Hill’s innovative Playing for Peace™ program.
Education is an integral part of the quartet’s mission — therefore they have conducted mini-residencies in embassies, communities, schools and universities locally in the Monadnock region, nationally in the major U.S. cities, and throughout the world in such faraway places as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Algiers, Cyprus, Ireland, England, Burma, Vietnam, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Russia. They also spend countless hours as dedicated teacher-performers at Apple Hill’s renowned Summer Chamber Music Workshop, held each summer on the 100-acre Apple Hill campus.
As 21st-century musicians, the quartet is deeply committed to the commissioning of new works. Their recent commission by composer and long-time “Apple Hiller” Daniel Sedgwick was premiered at Apple Hill in 2009 and performed to critical acclaim throughout the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. Their project, “Around the World with Playing for Peace™", features the rich multicultural repertoire of works and compositions associated with countries visited through the Playing for Peace™ program, as seen through the lens of the string quartet. Featured composers have included Victor Ullman (String Quartet #3, written in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp), Turkish composer Ekrem Zeki Ün, Armenian composers Alan Hovhaness and A. Zohrabian, Syrian composer Kareem Roustom, and American composers Roger Sessions, John Harbison, Tom Oboe Lee, Larry Siegel, and Charles Ives.
The quartet is comprised of Elise Kuder and Colleen Jennings, violins, Michael Kelley, viola, and Rupert Thompson, violoncello.
Elise Kuder, violin
Called “first rate” by the Boston Globe, Elise Kuder is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and The Juilliard School. Her teachers and coaches have included Monica VanderBaan, Marilyn McDonald, Joel Smirnoff, David Takeno, Eugene Lehner, Felix Galimir, Gilbert Kalisch, Robert Merfeld, and Lenny Matczynski. She attended the Tanglewood Music Center, where she won the Kohn Award for outstanding musicianship and served as concertmaster of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. As a Fulbright scholar, Elise studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England, where she was first violinist of the Tate Quartet, which made its successful debut at Wigmore Hall in London. Beginning her association with Apple Hill as one of its youngest participants at age 12, Elise is currently first violinist of the Apple Hill String Quartet and has been an artist-inresidence at Apple Hill since 2001.
Colleen Jennings, violin
Colleen Jennings has been performing and teaching around the globe for many years. As a member of the Kammerorchester Basel in Switzerland and a resident there for 4 years, she toured extensively throughout Western Europe. She recorded several CD’s with the group including Beethoven Symphonies 1-2 with Giovanni Antonini and a recording of Modern Classical music with Christopher Hogwood and Emma Kirkby. Also while in Switzerland, she co-founded the chamber ensemble Ex Luce Color. The unique ensemble, made up of 2 violins and soprano, seeks to bridge early, contemporary and traditional music in its varied programs some of which include works written for the ensemble. Stateside, she has played with the New England Piano Quintet, Arcadia Players, the Springfield Symphony, and the Opera North orchestra. She is on the faculty at Smith College. Colleen began her association with Apple Hill as a summer faculty coach in 2010, is now second violinist of the Apple Hill String Quartet, and has been an artist-in-resident at Apple Hill since 2013. Colleen received a Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory and a Masters of Music degree from Rice University. Her principal teachers include Sergiu Luca, Marilyn McDonald and Antonio Pellegrini.
Michael Kelley, viola
Michael Kelley graduated from The Walnut Hill School for the Arts and has received degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and The Juilliard School. His teachers have included Leonard Matczynski, Jeffrey Irvine, and Karen Tuttle. A prize winner at the Primrose International Viola Competition at the age of 18, Mike is currently violist of the Apple Hill String Quartet and has been an artist-in-residence at Apple Hill since 1996. He is the Music Coordinator for Apple Hill’s Summer Chamber Music Workshop, where he directs sessions, performs concerts, and coaches chamber music throughout the summer. An active composer, Mike has been a Teaching Fellow in Electronic Music at the Juilliard School, has written music for everyone from Madison Square Garden to Yale University, and frequently gives lectures/ demonstrations on the subject of creating electronic music. As disco-pop singer Kelley Polar, he has performed at major European pop-rock music festivals and in club venues worldwide, collaborating with many groups including the Junior Boys, Metro Area, and Bomb the Bass. His albums have recently been selected for the “best of the decade” lists of music magazines Stylus and Fact, and have been highly recommended by Entertainment Weekly, Spin, and the Guardian.
Rupert Thompson, cello
Rupert Thompson made his solo debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the age of 18. He has studied with Mihaly Virizlay and Timothy Eddy, holding degrees from the Peabody Institute (BM) in Baltimore Md., and SUNY Stony Brook of New York (MM and DMA). Rupert has received a career grant from the Concert Artist Guild, as well as the CD Jackson Memorial Award of Merit from the Tanglewood Music Center. Live radio broadcasts of his solo engagements include WFMT of Chicago and WQXR in New York City. He began his association with Apple Hill as a resident artist in 2000 and is now cellist of the Apple Hill String Quartet, where he tours around the world through Apple Hill’s Playing for Peace™ program. In addition to his active concert schedule, Rupert is also a photographer, a screen writer, and served as film composer for the award-winning movie Sensation of Sight.