On Saturday’s broadcast, we feature Nova String Quartet of the Academy at the Music Institute of Chicago. Nova was formed in the fall of 2018 and is comprised of violinists Irina Casasnovas and John Heo, violist Zechary Mo, and cellist Cameron Chiu. All four students are fellows at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy, a pre-college training program for gifted musicians. The quartet is coached by artist faculty member Matthias Tacke. Nova is Latin for “new.” The quartet chose this name because classical music can be stereotyped as old or outdated; the group strives to deliver a new perspective through their playing, especially for young listeners. Nova String Quartet has performed in various venues and has had masterclass opportunities with ensembles such as the Calidore String Quartet.
Irina Casasnovas, 18, was born in San José, Costa Rica and is a student of Almita Vamos. She was the grand-prize winner at the IL-ASTA Concerto Competition, Senior Strings Illinois MTNA, and the National Young Soloists Competition in Costa Rica. She has also won prizes in national and international competitions such as the Tibor Varga Junior International Competition, Sphinx Competition, Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition, National Young Arts Foundation, DePaul Concerto Festival, DuPage Concerto Competition, Blount-Slawson Competition, and Musicians Club of Women Competition. She has performed as a soloist with Kremereta Baltica, Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra, Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne Orchestra, and Ottawa Chamber Symphony.
John Heo, 18, is from Northbrook, Illinois and studies with Almita Vamos. He has won many competitions including the DePaul Concerto Festival, Arthur D. Montzka Concerto Competition, Sejong Cultural Society Competition, American Music Institute Violin Competition, Chinese Fine Arts Society Competition, Musichorale Scholarship Competition, Glenbrook Concerto Competition, Blount-Slawson Competition, and Walgreens National Concerto Competition. He has performed as a soloist with Lake Geneva Symphony Orchestra, Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra, Ottawa Chamber Symphony, and Fox Valley Orchestra.
Zechariah Mo, 17, is from Palatine, Illinois and studies with Almita and Roland Vamos. He won first place at the IL-ASTA Concerto Competition, the Society of American Musicians Competition, DePaul Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, and the West Suburban Concerto Competition. He has also won top prizes from the Fox Valley Concerto Competition, Chinese Fine Arts Society Competition, and the Sejong Competition. He has performed as a soloist with La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, West Suburban Symphony Orchestra, Fox Valley Orchestra, and Oistrakh Symphony.
Cameron Chiu, 17, is from Palatine, Illinois and studies with Horacio Contreras. Cameron has won first place at the 2019 Fox Valley Competition and the 2018 Society of American Musicians Competition. He was also a prize winner at the Chinese Fine Arts Society Music Competition, the DuPage Symphony Young Artists Competition, and DePaul Concerto Festival. He has performed as a soloist with Fox Valley Orchestra and Fremd High School Symphony Orchestra.