For Constance V. Pathy, LMus’71, LMus’86, music has been a lifelong passion. And, like a single melody that grows into a complete concerto, that passion found its realization in her own philanthropic opus: the creation of the McGill International String Quartet Academy (MISQA).
“I played the cello and I loved playing in string quartets – and quintets and sextets. It’s a wonderful discipline,” she says. “McGill has developed a very great faculty of Music over the last years. Because the string quartet shows musicianship at its best, I wanted to establish something that would develop young string quartets.”
From Russia with love: Rusquartet string quartet members (le≤ to right) Anna Snezhina, Maria Teplyakova, Anna Yanchishina and Alexander Dulov.
Such ensembles are, to her, the ultimate musical achievement, and an opportunity to hone skills that extend far beyond the practice room. “It takes a harmony of spirit. It’s also essential, of course, that their instruments blend. But the ability to listen, deeply, to each other, that’s the hard part. If you just put four musicians together, even if they are fantastic players, you probably don’t get a great performance,” Pathy explains.
Young, established quartets from anywhere in the world compete for admission to the annual Academy, where they receive intensive coaching from top international string musicians. Between six and eight quartets – many international prizewinners and some junior quartets – are chosen in late April for the August event. In 2012 – the third year of MISQA’s life – Britain’s Endellion String Quartet will be in residence, as will four guest coaches from three other acclaimed quartets.
“The opportunity for students to be mentored by top international string players and to perform and interact closely with them offers the potential for an unforgettable experience,” says Professor Sean Ferguson, Dean of the Schulich School of Music.
Pathy, a long-time volunteer and patron of classical music in Montreal and in the Eastern Townships, takes particularly pleasure in meeting the students and hearing them describe the value of the MISQA experience.
“The coaching they receive at the Academy increases their level of interpretation and prepares them for competition,” she says. “The training is intense, and stands them in good stead later in their career. The members of the quartets have been exuberant. They feel it serves a tremendous purpose and are very grateful something like this exists!”
For Pathy, such gratitude is truly music to her ears.
- Vivian Lewin