Thalea String Quartet
The Thalea String Quartet brings their signature vibrancy and emotional commitment to dynamic performances that reflect the past, present, and the future of the string quartet repertoire while celebrating diverse musical traditions from around the world. Fueled by the belief that chamber music is a powerful force for building community and human connection, the Thalea String Quartet has performed across North America, Europe, and China, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center, Massey Hall, and Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall. They have shared the stage with luminaries of the chamber music world, including members of the Emerson, Borromeo and St Lawrence String Quartets, and they have performed alongside celebrated artists including Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, violist Lawrence Power, acclaimed Canadian band BADBADNOTGOOD, and visionary hip hop artist Jay Electronica.
Committed to shaping and contributing to the future of the string quartet repertoire, the Thalea String Quartet has premiered dozens of new works and have collaborated on new commissions with composers including Paola Prestini, Anthony R. Green, Akshaya Avril Tucker, and Tanner Porter.
Winners of the 2021 Ann Divine Educator Award from the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the members of the Thalea String Quartet have been celebrated for their innovative approach to education and community engagement. Pioneers of virtual educational programming, TSQ has developed a variety of digital content, including two digital video series for students of all ages and the CHAMPS Virtual Chamber Music Seminar, which brought together students from across North America for an eight-week intensive study of the music of Florence B. Price, Joseph Haydn, and Antonín Dvořák. The members of the TSQ have presented masterclasses and workshops at institutions across North America, including the Berkelee College of Music, the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, and San Francisco State University. They have presented lectures and led discussions at institutions including the University of Maryland, Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, and Wayne State Medical School in Detroit, where they presented a workshop on non-verbal communication to first year medical students alongside the Emerson String Quartet.
The Thalea String Quartet is the Doctoral Fellowship String Quartet at the University of Maryland. The quartet has also held fellowship positions at the University of Texas at Austin and the San Francisco Conservatory. They served as Associated Artists at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Waterloo, Belgium for the 2019-20 season and were the 2019-20 Ernst Stiefel Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. They were top prize winners at the 2018 Fischoff Competition and 2018 Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition.
Christopher Whitley (violin) is originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Kumiko Sakamoto (violin) is from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada; Lauren Spaulding (viola) is from San Antonio, Texas, and Alex Cox (cello) is from West Palm Beach, Florida. Christopher performs on the 1700 “Taft” Stradivari, generously on loan by the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank.