Barrie Concerts & Georgian Music


Penderecki String Quartet with Pianist Ben Smith

February 24, 2024, 7:30pm - Hiway Church

Penderecki String Quartet

Penderecki String Quartet

Penderecki String Quartet

Celebrating their 36th anniversary, the Penderecki String Quartet began their career as winners of the Penderecki Prize at the National Chamber Music Competition in Łódz, Poland in 1986. Now based in Waterloo, Ontario where they have been Quartet-in-Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University since 1991, The Penderecki String Quartet has become one of the most celebrated chamber ensembles of their generation. The four Penderecki musicians (now originating from Poland, Canada, and USA) bring their varied yet collective experience to create performances that demonstrate their “remarkable range of technical excellence and emotional sweep” (Toronto, Globe and Mail).

The PSQ's international performing schedule has included appearances in New York (Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall), Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Hong Kong (Academy for the Arts), Los Angeles (REDCAT Hall at Disney Center), St. Petersburg (Sheremetev Palace), the Adam Festival in New Zealand, and throughout Europe in Rome, Madrid, Paris, Belgrade, Prague, Krakow, Vilnius, and Zagreb. The PSQ has also toured extensively in Mexico, Australia, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, and from coast to coast in Canada. Dedicated educators, the PSQ have been recent guests at Bloomington Indiana University’s String Academy, the Beijing Conservatory, University of Southern California (Los Angeles), University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and with their partner universities in Osnabrück, Germany and Lyon, France.

To this day the PSQ is a devoted champion of the music of our time, having premiered over 100 new works from composers in Canada and abroad. Penderecki Quartet's large discography includes over three dozen recordings including the chamber music repertoire of Beethoven and Brahms on both the Marquis and Eclectra labels, as well as the first Canadian release of the six Béla Bartók quartets. Their disc of Marjan Mozetich’s “Lament in the Trampled Garden” won the 2010 JUNO Award for Best Composition. In October 2013, the PSQ worked with Maestro Krzysztof Penderecki on his Third Quartet (2008) and performed it at Symphony Space in New York City on the occasion of his 80th birthday. This followed with the recording of Penderecki’s Third Quartet along with quartets of Norbert Palej on the Marquis label. In 2022, the PSQ was featured in Howard Shore’s soundtrack to David Cronenberg’s film Crimes of the Future.

The Penderecki Quartet has performed with diverse artists such as Atar Arad, Jeremy Menuhin, Stewart Goodyear, James Campbell and have recently appeared with jazz saxophonist Jane Bunnett, jazz pianists Egberto Gismonti, Don Thomson and David Braid, pipa virtuoso Ching Wong, Dancetheatre David Earle, Pentaedre Wind Quintet, actor Colin Fox, and New York turntable artist DJ Spooky.

The Penderecki Quartet continue to be active members of the Faculty of Music at Laurier University where they have built the string program to be one of the top programs in Canada, attracting an international body of students. Their annual Quartetfest at Laurier is an intensive study seminar and concert series that has featured such ensembles as the Tokyo, Fine Arts, Lafayette, Miro, Ying, and Ariana String Quartets.

Christine Vlajk, Viola

Christine Vlajk, Viola

Violist Christine Vlajk has performed extensively in North and South America, Europe, much of China, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Some of the concert halls where she has performed with the Penderecki String Quartet have included Weill Concert Hall at Carnegie Hall, 92nd Street Y, Kennedy Center, REDCAT Hall in Los Angeles, and the Hong Kong Academy to name a few.

She has held the positions of violist of the Penderecki String Quartet and Artist-in-Residence in viola and chamber music at Laurier University since 1997. She has received Prizes at the Banff, Coleman, Yellow Springs, Carmel and Evian Chamber Music Competitions. She was granted the Friedlander Fellowship from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory and Scholarships to attend the Aspen Center for Advanced Quartet Studies, The Julliard and Cleveland Quartet Seminars, all helping to pave the road for a life as a chamber musician.

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Vlajk has Bachelor degrees in Viola Performance (B.M.) and Music Education (B.M.E.) from the University of Colorado in Boulder and a Masters degree in Viola Performance (M.M.) from the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Her teachers have included Oswald Lehnert, Jerry Horner, Denes Koromzay and members of the Cleveland, Julliard, LaSalle, Takacs, and Fine Arts Quartets.

She has been guest soloist with the West Virginia Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, Peterborough Symphony and the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. She has performed recitals in Canada, the United States and Germany. She has premiered two viola concertos by Peter Grella-Mozejko and Karol Gostyniski. As an orchestral player she has held the position of principal violist of the West Virginia Symphony and was a member of the New Hampshire Music Festival.

Dedicated to the education of young people, she has performed an extensive series of children’s concerts across the United States and Canada. She has given master classes at Lynn Conservatory, Indiana University’s String Academy, Florida State University, University of Toronto, SUNY Fredonia, the Glenn Gould Professional School and many places in Mexico, China and New Zealand.

As a member of the Penderecki String Quartet and the Montclaire Quartet, Vlajk has recorded nearly 30 recordings for the Koch, Leonarda, Eclectra, Marquis Classics and EMI labels. When she is not performing with her quartet or teaching her wonderful students, she enjoys nature, yoga, cooking and the finer things in life.

Jeremy Bell, Violin

Jeremy Bell, Violin

A native of Toronto, violinist Jeremy Bell earned a B. Mus degree from the University of Toronto, and from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, he received his Masters and Doctor of Music.

Dr. Bell is a recipient of numerous grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts and is a prize winner of the Eckhardt Grammatté National competition and the Conseil Québécois’ Prix Opus. He has studied with David Zafer, George Neikrug, Joyce Robbins, Metro Kozak and with members of the Orford, Juilliard, Tokyo, and Orion string quartets. Joining the Penderecki String Quartet in 1999, Dr. Bell is Artist in Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University where he teaches violin and chamber music.

Described by the Toronto Star as a violinist who “agitates in the most intelligent and persuasive manner”, Bell has performed recently with the Penderecki Quartet at Arsenale Festival in Poland, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Is Arti Festival in Lithuania, MBZ Zagreb, State Museum of Music in St. Petersburg, REDCAT/Disney Centre in Los Angeles, Roxy/NOD in Prague, Fundacion Juan March in Madrid, Jane Mallet Theatre in Toronto, Paris University 8, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City, Indiana University in Bloomington, Casalmaggiore Festival in Italy, Tovar Festival Venezuela, Virtuosi Festival Brazil, Adam Festival New Zealand, the Hong Kong Academy, the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, the Banff Centre in Alberta, and the Chan Centre in Vancouver.

With the Penderecki String Quartet, Bell has recorded over 25 discs including the premiere Canadian recording of the Béla Bartók string quartet cycle, Marjan Mozetich’s ‘Lament in the Trampled Garden’ (winner of the 2010 JUNO Award for composition), and the complete Grieg sonatas for violin and piano. From 2000-2007, Bell was the artistic director of NUMUS Concerts where he created several multi-media events at the Perimeter Institute and with Dancetheatre David Earle. He has performed a wide range of music, performing baroque with Consortium Aurora Borealis and Les Violons du Roy, Cuban jazz with Hilario Duran, as well as collaborating with pipa virtuoso Ching Wong, NYC’s DJ Spooky, and rap star Jay-Z. In addition, Bell has performed as soloist with many orchestras in Canada, USA and Mexico, including the Toronto Symphony, the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony, the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, performing concertos of Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Hatzis, Locatelli, Lutoslawski, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Päart, Prokofiev, Saint-Saens, and Schoenberg. As guest concertmaster he has appeared with the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony, the Hamilton Philharmonic, the New Zealand National Symphony, and the Canadian Opera Company. Dr. Bell plays an A.S. Bernadel violin (1854).

Jerzy Kapłanek, Violin

Jerzy Kapłanek, Violin

Internationally renowned violinist Jerzy Kapłanek has established himself as a chamber musician, member of the celebrated Penderecki String Quartet, soloist, dedicated teacher, adjudicator, artistic director of QuartetFest and lately as a jazz violinist

He performs throughout Europe, Asia, and North and South America over 80 concerts each season. His album of works by Karol Szymanowski with pianist Stéphan Sylvestre was highly praised by The Strad magazine as “an outstanding release”. His discography with the Penderecki Quartet comprises over two dozen CD’s (Marquis, Eclectra, CBC, CMC, EMI, Decca labels), including the highly acclaimed recording of the complete string quartets of Béla Bartók.

Mr. Kaplanek has collaborated with such notable musicians as pianists David Braid, Leopoldo Erice , Vladimir Feltsman, Janina Fialkowska Francine Kay, Lev Natochenny, Jamie Parker, Stéphan Sylvestre, cellists Marc Johnson, Antonio Lysy Paul Pulford, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, and clarinetist James Campbell amongst others. He is frequently heard on CBC Radio and NPR. He has made solo appearances with the Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, Peterborough and CBC Vancouver Symphonies and was a featured soloist at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.

Jerzy Kapłanek was born in Poland in 1965. His music education started at the age of six on piano and at the age of ten he began his violin studies. In 1984, he received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Conservatory in Bytom. In 1990, he graduated with a Master’s Degree in Musical Arts from the prestigious Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice. There, he studied with the distinguished teachers Janusz Skramlik, Aureli Błaszczok and Stanisław Lewandowski

In 1987-88 he studied with Efim Boico and the Fine Arts Quartet at the Chamber Music Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1989-90, he was a student of Sylvia Rosenberg in New York City and in 1990-91 he studied with Daniel Heifetz, the Guarneri String Quartet and its violinists, Arnold Steinhardt and John Dalley. Pursuing his interest in performance practice, Mr. Kapłanek also worked with the pioneer of baroque violin, Jaap Schroeder.

Jerzy Kapłanek is presently a Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, where since 1991 he has been teaching violin and chamber music. He frequently gives master classes in Canada and abroad.

Mr. Kaplanek performs on a 2016 Samuel Zygmuntowicz violin made in New York City.

Katie Schlaikjer, Cello

Katie Schlaikjer, Cello

Cellist Katie Schlaikjer is a recognized quartet player, performer and teacher, she became a member of the Colorado Quartet in 2009 and joined the faculty of the University of Connecticut in 2010. As a former member of the Avalon Quartet, she received top prizes from the Concert Artist Guild, the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, and the Banff International String Quartet Competition. Katie has performed at the Ravinia, Tanglewood, Aspen, and Caramoor festivals, collaborated with Claude Frank, Roger Tapping and Peter Wiley and recorded for Albany Records.

Ms Schlaikjer’s appearances with the Colorado Quartet have included Symphony Spaces’ 2010 and 2011 Wall to Wall marathon concerts, performances in San Francisco, Ohio, Virginia, Delaware, and the British Virgin Islands and two performances of the complete Bartok quartets. In 2011, she premiered J Mark Scearce’s cello concerto “Aracana” with the University of Connecticut’s Symphony Orchestra and traveled to China to play the Haydn D major cello concerto with the Wuhan Symphony Orchestra. Katie has taught chamber music and cello at the New England Conservatory’s Extension Division, Bard Conservatory’s Preparatory Program, the Quartet Program (NY), Apple Hill (NH), and Soundfest (MA) music festivals and given master classes at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Delaware.

Katie received her Doctoral and Master’s degrees from Stony Brook University and her Bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory. Her principal teachers have included Timothy Eddy, Laurence Lesser and Andres Diaz. Her cello was made by Paolo Castello in Genoa in 1775.

Ben Smith, Piano

Ben Smith, Piano

Described as a “thoughtful and immensely exciting performer” with “scintillating technique” (Barrie Examiner) and “intelligently rounded musicianship” (The Irish Times), pianist Benjamin Smith has performed as soloist and chamber musician across North America. He has been a laureate of numerous competitions, including the Dublin International, the Virginia Waring International, and the CMC Stepping Stone. Guest appearances include the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the Las Vegas Young Artists Orchestra, the Ontario Philharmonic, Orchestra London, the Windsor Symphony, and the University of Toronto’s Hart House Orchestra. As soloist, he has performed under esteemed conductors such as Rossen Milanov, Timothy Vernon, Marco Parisotto, and Yunior Lopez, with concertos including rarities such as the Schoenberg Piano Concerto. Festival appearances include Toronto Summer Music, Banff Summer Arts, Stratford Summer Music, Music Niagara, New Park (Ithaca, NY), and the Wellington Water Week festival. American performances include recitals for the Texas Chopin Society and Chicago’s Landowska Harpsichord Society. Recent seasons have included two concerts in Carnegie Hall, most recently as soloist in Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue with the Hart House Orchestra, and previously in recital with Canadian cellist Dongkyun An. A disc with Mr. An of Saint-Saens, Schumann, and Beethoven was released in December 2016.

Devoting considerable time to chamber music, Ben’s performances have been heard nationally across Canada on CBC Music (Radio 2). He has partnered in recital with a plethora of renowned artists, including Martin Beaver, Jacques Israelievitch, Jinjoo Cho, Timothy Chooi, Stanislav Pronin, Colin Carr, Narek Hakhnazaryan, Gábor Tarkövi, Øystein Baadsvik, and William VerMeulen. Ensemble collaborations include the Penderecki, Cecilia, Tokai, and Annex string quartets. For two seasons he performed as one-third of the Israelievitch-Smith-Ahn piano trio. Involved with music of our time as well, he can regularly be found playing keyboards for the Esprit Orchestra.

Dr. Smith currently resides in Toronto, maintaining a concert schedule and serving on the faculty of both The Glenn Gould School (GGS) and The Taylor Academy at The Royal Conservatory. Previously, he held a position on the piano faculty at Western University. His principal teachers included Andrea Battista, James Anagnoson, Julian Martin, and Christina Dahl, as well as Henry Janzen on violin. Along with a DMA from Stony Brook University, he holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto, an Artist Diploma from the GGS, and a Masters from Juilliard.

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Contact Info

Barrie Concerts & Georgian Music
P.O. Box 452 Barrie, ON L4M 4T7
Phone: (705)-436-1232. or (705)-726-1181 Email: info@barrieconcerts.org
Official Website: www.barrieconcerts.org