Apple Hill String Quartet

Called “dashing and extraordinary” by The Strad Magazine, the Apple Hill String Quartet are the Artistic Directors and resident musicians at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, winner of the CMAcclaim award from Chamber Music America. The Quartet serves as the Music Directors and core faculty for Apple Hill’s Summer Chamber Music Workshop in Nelson, New Hampshire, attended by 300 students of diverse ages, experience levels, and backgrounds.

During the regular concert season, the Quartet performs concerts and conducts residencies locally in NH, nationally in major U.S. cities, and internationally around the globe—in venues as diverse as the Curtis Institute of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, the Moscow Conservatory, the Ketermaya refugee camp outside of Beirut, Lebanon, University of Michigan, University of Iowa, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, the Conservatorio National de Musica in Lima, Peru, the Gitameit Music School in Yangon, Myanmar, and UCLA.

The Quartet has collaborated with members of the Brentano String Quartet, Silk Road Ensemble, Dorian Wind Quintet, Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo, New York Philharmonic, and Community MusicWorks in Providence, RI. Members of the Quartet have received degrees from Oberlin Conservatory, the Juilliard School, Peabody Conservatory, New England Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, SUNY Stonybrook, and a Fulbright Fellowship to London, England.

Elise Kuder, violin - Called “first-rate” by the Boston Globe, Elise Kuder is the first violinist of the Apple Hill String Quartet and a Co-Artistic Director of the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music where she has been a resident musician since 1998. With Apple Hill, Elise has performed and taught in venues as diverse as the Curtis Institute of Music, Moscow Conservatory, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Zipper Hall at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, the Institutes of Music in Damascus and Alleppo, Gitameit Music Institute in Burma, the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica in Lima, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, the Royal Irish Academy of Music, the Ketermaya refugee camp outside of Beirut, and the General Store in Harrisville, New Hampshire. Elise is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and The Juilliard School where she studied with Marilyn McDonald and Joel Smirnoff. She attended the Tanglewood Music Center where she won the Kohn Award for outstanding musicianship and served as concertmaster of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra under conductors Robert Spano and Bernard Haitink. As a Fulbright Scholar, Elise studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England with David Takeno. In her spare time away from Apple Hill, she has performed at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem with disco legends Patrick Adams, Black Ivory, and Donna McGhee and teaches violin in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire.

Jesse MacDonald, violin - Joining the Apple Hill String Quartet in 2020, Jesse MacDonald has participated and placed in festivals and competitions in the Northwest and Northeast regions of the United States. He first attended Apple Hill’s Young Artist Fellowship Program in 2014 as violinist in the Tempest String Quartet, and again in the summers of 2016 and 2018 as the teaching assistant for violin. He previously performed with New York City’s Luminaria String Quartet and Boston’s Emma String Quartet in performances at NEC’s Jordan Hall, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, and throughout the New England area. He was also the lead fiddle player for the Broken String Band, a contra dance and swing band based out of Bozeman, MT, for 10 years. He is currently a core member of Palaver Strings (Portland, ME) and the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra, and has played all over the East Coast with groups such as the Dessoff Choirs with Dr. Malcolm Merriweather, Bergen Symphony, Camerata NY, and with Off-Broadway theaters such as the Company Theatre in Norwell, MA, and the Seacoast Repertory Theater in Portsmouth, NH. Jesse received his Bachelors degree at the New England Conservatory of Music, studying with Masuko Ushioda and Joanna Kurkowicz, and was awarded the Rachmael Weinstock Scholarship for Violin and Hugo Kortschak Award for Chamber Music from the Manhattan School of Music where he received his Masters degree, studying violin with Mark Steinberg.

Mike Kelley, viola - Apple Hill String Quartet violist and Co-Artistic Director at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, Mike Kelley graduated from The Walnut Hill School for the Arts and has received degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and The Juilliard School. His teachers have included Leonard Matczynski, Jeffrey Irvine, and Karen Tuttle. A Primrose International Viola Competition finalist at the age of 18, Mike joined the resident ensemble of the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music three years later and has been performing and touring internationally with the group for over 20 years. He is the Music Director and Coordinator of Apple Hill’s Summer Chamber Music Workshop where he directs sessions, performs concerts, and coaches chamber music throughout the summer in New Hampshire. An active composer, Mike has been a Teaching Fellow in Electronic Music at Juilliard, and a guest lecturer at Harvard on the subject of electronic dance music. Under a pop-disco alias, he has performed worldwide in clubs such as Webster Hall (NYC), the O2 (London), and Berghain (Berlin), and has written and produced music for many pop acts, including Metro Area, Caribou, Madonna, and Pharrell. His albums have been selected for the “best of the decade” lists of music magazines Stylus and Fact, and have been highly recommended by Entertainment Weekly, Pitchfork, and the Guardian.

Rupert Thompson, cello - A cellist with the Apple Hill String Quartet and Co-Artistic Director at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, Rupert Thompson has been a resident member of Apple Hill since 1997. Making his solo debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the age of 18, Rupert has studied with Mihaly Virizlay and Timothy Eddy. Holding degrees from the Peabody Institute (BM) in Baltimore MD and SUNY Stony Brook of New York (MM and DMA), Rupert has received a career grant from the Concert Artist Guild, as well as the C.D. Jackson Memorial Award of Merit from the Tanglewood Music Center. Live radio broadcasts of his solo engagements include WFMT of Chicago and WQXR in New York City. In addition to his active Apple Hill concert and teaching schedule with such notable institutions as the Moscow Conservatory, Williams College, the Curtis Institute, Dartmouth College, UCLA, the Yerevan State Conservatory, and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Rupert is also a photographer, a screenwriter, and served as film composer for the award-winning movie Sensation of Sight which featured Oscar-nominated actor David Strathairn.

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