Formed in 1985, the Atlantic String Quartet (ASQ) is a versatile and professional chamber ensemble comprised of the principal string players of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (NSO): Heather Kao, first violin; Nancy Case-Oates, second violin; Kate Read, viola; and Theo Weber, cello. In addition to their work with the full orchestra and NSO Sinfonia, the quartet produces its own Recital Series each season, presenting a broad selection of works from the rich quartet and small ensemble repertoires. The ASQ is an integral part of the creative life of its community and is known for its versatility and ability to work with music and musicians from all styles and genres. Having shared the stage with such international classical musicians as Anton Kuerti, André Laplante, and Martin Beaver, and local artists such as jazz artist Duane Andrews and renowned songwriter Ron Hynes, the members of the quartet also teach privately, and coach and conduct other ensembles. In 2014, the ASQ was offered a placement at the prestigious St. Lawrence String Quartet Music Seminar in Stanford, CA.
Read more about the ASQ members below.
Heather Kao, first violin
A native of St. John’s, Heather Kao is the newly appointed Concertmaster of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and the First Violin of the Atlantic String Quartet. She can frequently be seen on stage performing as a soloist, with the new music group Ora Ensemble, and with her partner Steve Power in the group Duet Ever. Heather is a Suzuki teacher and accompanist. She has been a guest performer on countless recordings, as well as on TV and radio. She has a performance degree from the Memorial University School of Music and is a past member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Quintessential Vocal Ensemble and Lady Cove Women’s Choir. She has received many awards from the Kiwanis Music Festival including the Senior Rose Bowl, and has competed at the national level of the Canadian Music Competition and National Music Competition. She has played in pit orchestras for many local productions, including White Christmas, Our Divas Do Broadway, West Side Story, Fame, and Annie, to name a few. Heather has enjoyed performing and recording in many genres of music, from pop music with Hey Rosetta and Christa Borden to traditional music with Ennis.
Nancy Case-Oates, second violin
Nancy Case-Oates began her musical studies on piano and violin at an early age. As a teenager, she began her orchestral training with the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Orchestra, ultimately becoming concertmaster. She played two summers with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and participated in master class programs at the Banff Centre and Orford Centre for the Arts. As well, Nancy participated in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival and toured Scotland with the Montreal Civic Youth Orchestra. Upon high school graduation, she left the province to acquire degrees in performance from both Universities of Toronto and Victoria. Since returning to Newfoundland, Nancy has been active as a performer and pedagogue and is currently the Principal Second Violin of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. She is also a founding member of the Pachelbel Trio, with whom she has performed around eastern Newfoundland and St. Pierre (FR). Nancy is violinist with the recently formed Atlantic String Trio and through her affiliation with the Suzuki Talent Education Program of St. John’s she is a Suzuki-trained teacher and a faculty regular at the Atlantic Canada Suzuki Institute. An opera enthusiast, she has performed in various productions with the U of T’s Opera school, U Vic’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and Opera on the Avalon. Nancy appears on Kim Stockwood’s Back to the Water (2012), Jim Duff’s Jazz Mass (2008), and on YouTube with Duane Andrews in the video Raindrops.
Kate Read, viola
In 2013, after almost 10 years, Kate Read returned to Newfoundland and rejoined the Atlantic String Quartet and Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra as principal violist, where she had already played for 3 seasons between 2001 and 2004. In 2004 Kate won a position with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London, England where she was a member of the viola section for 6 years. Kate also regularly played with the renowned Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra of London. As a member of the Elgin String Trio, with fellow BBC colleagues, Kate never strayed far away from opportunities to play chamber music. In 2011 the draw of chamber music combined with astonishing nature led Kate to the north of Norway to play with chamber group MiNensemblet, with whom Kate performed all over Norway and internationally. Kate has been recorded by CBC for Two New Hours and Musicraft and made numerous recordings with orchestras in the UK for the BBC as well as for top record labels. Kate is also the violist of Dark by Five, resident ensemble at Gros Morne Summer Music.
Theo Weber, cello (on leave 2016/17)
Theo Weber has been the principal cellist for the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra for the past twenty years now. Originally from Michigan, Theo received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where his teachers included Samuel Mayes, longtime principal cellist of the Philadelphia and Boston Symphony Orchestras. He then went on to earn his Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Allan Harris. In addition to sitting principal in the symphony, Theo is also a member of the Atlantic String Quartet as well as Sinfonia, the NSO’s subsidiary chamber orchestra. Theo is a versatile musician, comfortable with a wide variety of musical styles from classical to pop, folk and jazz and in demand as an engaging performer as well as a recording artist. He has collaborated with classical luminaries such as Anton Kuerti, Angela Cheng, Rivka Golani, Andre La Plante, Colin Carr, and Shauna Rolston. Outside of the classical field he has performed and recorded with many well-known popular artists and groups such as Ron Hynes, Duane Andrews, The Pathological Lovers and Rasa, in venues ranging from Ottawa, St. Pierre and Miquelon to Rio de Janeiro where he was twice invited to sit principal in the Orchestre Sinfonica do Brasil and to participate in the Rio International Cello Encounter. In June 2014 the Atlantic String Trio was invited to participate in the Saint Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar in Stanford California.