In brief

  • The St. Lawrence Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford offers free public concerts by guest faculty and participants.
  • The 10-day seminar brings together amateurs and professionals who come to meet fellow musicians, study with esteemed faculty, and perform in front of live audiences.
  • The final four concerts are this weekend.

Now in its third decade, the annual St. Lawrence Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford is in full swing, leading to a series of free public concerts by guest faculty and participants. For many, the summer seminar is an annual pilgrimage dating back to its inception in 2000, a testament to its enduring appeal. For others, this is a first-time experience joining a cohort of celebrated professional musicians and accomplished amateurs.

Free public performances

Friday, June 28, noon, Bing Concert Hall – This midday master performance by seminar faculty includes music by Darius Milhaud, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Felix Mendelssohn.

Saturday, June 29, 2 p.m., Campbell Recital Hall – The annual Azure Family Concert, a one-hour special event designed for children and young adults on the autism spectrum, hosted by returning seminar faculty member and Stanford Department of Music visiting artist Stephen Prutsman, features seminar ensembles and guest performers. Registration is required.

Saturday, June 29, 5 p.m., Bing Concert Hall – The International Showcase concert is a full-length program featuring three seminar ensembles. 

Sunday, June 30, 11 a.m., Campbell Recital Hall – The seminar’s joyful grand finale is a marathon concert, estimated to last four hours, celebrating the dedication of all faculty and participants.

A beloved legacy of the acclaimed St. Lawrence String Quartet, Stanford’s ensemble-in-residence from 1998 to 2024, the 10-day seminar brings together amateurs, professionals, and students aged 18 to 78. Advanced students destined for careers in performance rub shoulders with musicians whose careers are in various non-musical fields. Devoted amateurs meet professional practitioners. And everyone ends up on stage together on the final day. 

“It's hard to put into words the feeling of being a part of this community, the impact it has had on me as a musician and person, the friendships formed, and the shared experience over so many years,” says James L. Zehnder, professor of pathology and of medicine, and amateur cellist, who has attended 21 seminars. “As an example, the St. Lawrence String Quartet played at my wedding 20 years ago, and two years ago, my 18-year-old daughter and I played together in the seminar.” 

Connect, share, perform 

The seminar follows a rigorous schedule of study and performance led by the St. Lawrence and a star-studded roster of guest faculty who perform free public concerts, deliver keynote lectures, conduct interactive demonstrations, and host informal late-night chamber music parties where the diverse group of participants mix, play, laugh, and connect over great music.

The SLSQ has created an extraordinary place that supports students, aspiring professional musicians, and adult amateur musicians alike.”
Warren Wuamateur cellist

For the group of mostly string players, plus a handful of pianists and a single French horn player, instruction is provided by two former members of the St. Lawrence String Quartet – Lesley Robertson, viola, and Owen Dalby, violin – along with 15 new and returning guest faculty performers from around the globe. 

In addition to meeting fellow musicians and studying with esteemed faculty, seminar participants come to Stanford to perform in front of live audiences. Young professional track participants have the opportunity to perform for seminar community partners at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, Rosener House Adult Day Care House in Menlo Park, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory before a weekend of public performances on campus. 

Jessica Seeliger, an associate professor in pharmacological sciences at Stony Brook University and an amateur violin and viola player, has been participating in the seminar since 2003. She returns each summer because she says, “The seminar participants and faculty are an unparalleled community of people who share a love of making chamber music and sharing that joy with each other and others.”