Senior Artist Teacher
Biography: In addition to being a highly dedicated teacher, violist Steve Larson is one of the most passionate performers of his generation. The Montreal Gazette has praised him for his "singing tone, eloquent phrasing, expressive dynamics and flawless intonation," The Boston Globe hailed a recent concert as "supercharged, clear-headed, yet soulful," and Gramophone Magazine calls his playing "riveting." He has taught viola and chamber music at The Hartt School since 1998. In the Collegiate Division he was Chair of the String Department from 2001 to 2006 and served as Chair for Chamber Music from 2007-2011. He has been working with viola students from the Hartt Community Division since 2009.
In 1997, Mr. Larson won second prize at the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, UK, also receiving the special award for his performance of the commissioned work. He has performed as a soloist in Canada, the United States, France, Iceland, Italy, Austria, Japan, and China. He has given masterclasses at numerous conservatories, universities and summer programs in both Canada and the United States and is a regular guest performer at International Viola Congresses. Each July he performs extensively and teaches viola and chamber music at the Wintergreen Festival in Virginia (www.wintergreenperformingarts.org).
Since 1994 Mr. Larson has been the violist of the Adaskin String Trio, one of the pre-eminent ensemble of its kind in the world. They have performed extensively on major concert series throughout North America and have recorded the complete String Trios of Beethoven for Musica Omnia. Their 2008 MSR Classics release of the two piano quartets by Gabriel Faure with pianist Sally Pinkas has been enthusiastically welcomed by critics as "splendid," "worth celebrating" and "ferociously gorgeous!" Mr. Larson is also a member of the Avery Ensemble, a group renowned for both its passionate playing and its imaginative programming. Their 2008 recording of piano quartets by Mahler, Schnittke & Brahms was an obvious favorite of one classical.net reviewer: "gorgeous… there's a wonderful feeling of collaboration here… even as their hearts are aflame. …the performers clearly have passionate feelings about what they are playing. This is what loving music is all about."
Mr. Larson regularly performs duo and trio recitals with pianist Sally Pinkas and oboist Thomas Gallant in a special collaboration called Ensemble Schumann. They will release a new CD of romantic trios later this year. In addition, Mr. Larson has appeared as a guest with numerous chamber ensembles including the Emerson, Miami, Penderecki, and Arthur Leblanc String Quartets and the Lions Gate and New World Trios.
He is a former member of the Alcan and Diabelli String Quartets, Musica Camerata Montréal and l'Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal, and has performed with the Montreal Symphony and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Mr. Larson is originally from Saskatchewan (Canada) and holds degrees from McGill University, l'Université de Montréal and The Hartt School. He studied violin with Elman Lowe, Howard Leyton-Brown, and Mauricio Fuks, viola with Jutta Puchhammer and Steve Tenenbom, and chamber music with members of the Emerson and Orford String Quartets.
"…a truly splendid player, possessed of a huge, glowing sound as warm and creamy as hot chocolate fudge, and he's stunningly accurate too. One positively revels in a sound like that." -University of Waterloo Gazette
"…consummate conviction." -The Ottawa Citizen
"Not only was the Adaskin's technical mastery never in question, they brought to the music a focus and intensity that was all the keener for its selflessness, its utter lack of star-turn narcissism. Always and without undue insistence, you felt, they were directing the listener to the heart of the matter." -The Boston Globe
"Steve Larson and Annie Trepanier treated us to an electrifying performance of Bohuslav Martinu's Three Madrigals for Viola and Violin." -Journal of the American Viola Society
"The Avery Ensemble was an utter delight. The quartet is full of dynamic players with a flair for dramatic, engaging stage presence." -Hartford Advocate
"Larson's magnificent viola (Roy Morgan, in Chicago 1930 - a 17" instrument!) sings the French horn part of the original work [Brahms' Trio, Op.40]. I think maybe if Brahms had had available a violist of Larson's ability, the horn world might just have lost one of its most beloved trios to us violists. …superbly played." -Canadian Viola Society Newsletter
"The Adaskin String Trio performed excellently, exhibiting flawless intonation and a full, smoothly blended, unforced tone…. Hearty bravos go to this stellar ensemble." -21ST Century Music
"They're excellently matched, have a strong, fiery sound, and play with a level of ensemble precision little short of incredible…a riveting performance, which one could hardly imagine being improved on…. The sound of this ensemble was hard to believe, rising to positively symphonic proportions. Very impressive! With its strong and passionate tone the Adaskin produced a magically winning performance…. They have precision, sound, and taste of the highest level." -University of Waterloo Gazette
"Superb playing that holds its own against some formidable past interpretations [of the Beethoven String Trios]…the Canadian Adaskin Trio combine a flexible command of flow and phrase with instrumental power and eloquence and a nutty tonal richness. Nothing has been left unexamined, nothing is thrown away, every bar is savoured. With violinist Emlyn Ngai's aristocratic playing in the lead, and each of the three making riveting individual contributions, the Trio savours the sensuality of Beethoven's string writing and the intoxicating profusion of tunes while plumbing the emotional depths that lie beneath." -Gramophone Magazine
"Musica Omnia has produced a two-CD set [of the Beethoven String Trios] that should be in every chamber music-lover's collection….it confirms the very high caliber of the members of the Adaskin String Trio…a consistently high standard of technical and musical expertise in every one of these five demanding trios. ...robust rhythmic dynamism…in depth understanding and remarkable subtlety. ...one would search long and wide before finding the Beethoven String Trios as well performed, recorded and notated as on this label. There is so much to emulate, stimulate, contemplate and especially to appreciate in the initiative shown by three young Canadians who deservedly command a significant place in the recognition of chamber music excellence." -Canadian Viola Society Newsletter