Steve Larson, Traditional Viola and Violin
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Steve Larson

traditional viola and Violin

Steve Larson, Traditional Viola

Violist Steve Larson has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the Americas, Europe, Japan, and China - his playing has been described as “riveting” (Gramophone Magazine) and “electrifying” (Journal of the American Viola Society). The Montreal Gazette has praised his "singing tone, eloquent phrasing, expressive dynamics and flawless intonation," and the Boston Globe called his performing "supercharged, clear-headed, yet soulful." He is a Senior Artist Teacher at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford, where he has taught since 1998 and has served both as Chair for Strings and Chair of Chamber Music. He is Principal Viola of the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra and Chair of Viola Studies for the intensive string chamber music program at the Wintergreen Summer Music Academy in Virginia. He has given masterclasses and performances at conservatories, universities and schools throughout the United States and Canada, and at numerous summer festivals including the Ottawa Chamberfest (Ontario), the Orford Festival (Quebec), Domaine Forget International Music Academy (Quebec), the Stamford International Music Festival (UK), the Chamber Music Conference and Composer’s Forum of the East (Vermont), and Music Mountain (Connecticut).

Since 1994 Larson has been the violist of the Adaskin String Trio. Their landmark recording of the complete String Trios of Beethoven for Musica Omnia was hailed by Gramophone as “riveting” and “intoxicating”, while their MSR Classics release of the two piano quartets by Gabriel Faure with pianist Sally Pinkas was enthusiastically welcomed by critics as “splendid,” “worth celebrating” and “ferociously gorgeous.” With Pinkas and oboist Thomas Gallant he is a member of Ensemble Schumann, whose unique instrumentation and playing has been described by Fanfare Magazine as making “some of the most blissful sounds this side of nirvana. Truly, this is exquisite music, exquisitely played.” He also performs and records in duo with his wife, violinist Annie Trépanier and throughout the Americas and Europe with their acclaimed chamber groups, Avery Ensemble and Cuatro Puntos. Both groups also present their own Hartford, Connecticut concert series, including numerous world premieres and cross-cultural collaborations in programs specially crafted to give the music a meaningful context.

Larson has performed as a guest with groups such as the Emerson Quartet and the Lions Gate Trio as well as with orchestras such as the Montreal Symphony and National Arts Center Orchestra. He is a former member of the Alcan String Quartet, Musica Camerata Montreal, and l’Ensemble contemporain de Montréal. Originally from Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada), Larson holds degrees from McGill University, l’Université de Montréal and The Hartt School. At the 1997 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition in the United Kingdom he won second prize and received the special award for his performance of the commissioned work. He studied violin with Ernest Kassian, 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. He plays an exceptional 17-3/8 inch viola made by Helmuth Keller in 1981.

Teaching Philosophy 

It has been an inspiring privilege to teach at The Hartt School for more than twenty years and at the Wintergreen Summer Music Academy since 2007. Being part of these two exceptional communities, working alongside amazing colleagues, and getting the opportunity to teach students at a wide range of experience levels has been thrilling and has helped me to grow both as a musician and as a teacher. Whether teaching Twinkle to an elementary-aged beginner with a parent at their side, preparing a high-school or college senior for an important audition, or working on late Beethoven with a graduate level quartet, teaching demands first and foremost a focus on who is being taught. I must continuously strive to understand each student, building relationships that allow for interest, joy and passion to grow and for challenges to be overcome.

My approach must remain flexible, nurturing creativity and confidence through respect and patience as well as by carefully balancing lightheartedness and more intense focus. In addition to trying to increase students’ understanding of technique, musicianship and performance artistry, one of my main teaching goals is to help students develop disciplined work habits and problem solving skills. At all ages and levels, I seek to increase the students’ understanding of how the different elements of their musical pursuits work independently and collectively so that they can eventually guide their own development.