The Thalea String Quartet is dedicated to bringing timeless music to audiences from all walks of life. From living rooms to concert stages around the world, the Thalea String Quartet aims to connect with audiences on a musical, emotional and personal level, from first time listeners to string quartet aficionados. They are devoted to building a new and diverse audience for chamber music through innovative programming and community engagement.
Formed in 2014 at the Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival in Courmayeur, Italy, the Thalea String Quartet has been praised for their “vibrant performance” and “sincere expressivity” (SF Classical Voice). The quartet has performed recitals across Europe, China, the United States, and Canada, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center, Massey Hall, and Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall. They were the first quartet-in-residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music from 2015-17. They served as the Young Professional String Quartet at the Butler School of Music, where they were mentored by the highly acclaimed Miró Quartet. They also served as Associated Artists at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Waterloo, Belgium, where they were mentored by the Artemis Quartet. Thalea currently serves as the Doctoral Fellowship Quartet at the University of Maryland. The Thalea String Quartet were top prize winners at both the 2018 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the 2018 Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition, and they were named the Ernst Stiefel Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts for the 2019/20 season.
The Thalea String Quartet prides itself on the diversity of its collaborations. They have performed Mendelssohn’s Octet in its original manuscript form with the award-winning Borromeo Quartet and shared the stage with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw in performances of works for voice and string quartet. They have performed alongside Geoff Nuttall of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, violist Jodi Levitz and composer Mason Bates. They were invited to participate in the 2017 KRONOS Festival, where they performed works from the Kronos Quartet’s “50 for the Future” Project. Committed to collaborating with artists of all backgrounds, the Thalea String Quartet has collaborated with San Francisco-based dance theatre company the Joe Goode Performance Group at the Yerba Buena Center, appeared with acclaimed Canadian band BADBADNOTGOOD at the iconic Massey Hall. Most recently, the quartet has enjoyed a rich collaboration with acclaimed pianist Michelle Cann with whom they have toured a brand new arrangement of Florence Price’s Piano Concerto.
The members of the Thalea String Quartet are dedicated educators. They bring their unwavering commitment to teaching and community engagement to their frequent educational and community performances around the world. Additionally, the quartet has built a robust virtual education portfolio that allows them to regularly visit students from pre-school to post secondary institutions.
Christopher Whitley (violin) is originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Kumiko Sakamoto (violin) is from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada; Luis Bellorín (viola) is from Naperville, Illinois, and Titilayo Ayangade (cello) is from Cincinnati, Ohio. Christopher performs on the 1700 “Taft” Stradivari, generously on loan by the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank.