Classical Context

Quatuor Despax


Formed in 2003 in Gatineau by four siblings, the Quatuor Despax has received guidance from many distinguished musicians. The summer programs they have attended includes the Orford Academy where they studied with the New Orford String Quartet, the QuartetFest with the Penderecki String Quartet, The St. Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar and the Lunenberg Academy of Music with the Dover String Quartet.

The Quatuor Despax performs regularly in the national capital of Canada, Ouataouais and Montreal. They have produced themselves in various festivals and concert series in Ontario and Quebec, such as the Westben Festival, the Alexandria Festival, the series of Mardis Classiques in Gatineau, the Montée des Arts du Mont-St-Hilaire, the Festival Classique in Abitibi-Témiscamingue (Vald'Or), the Ponticello Concerts in Gatineau and Music and Beyond in Ottawa.

The Quatuor Despax has also toured internationally. They have performed in different cities of France such as Paris, Tillac, Barbotan, Madiran, Marciac and Tourdun. They were also invited to perform in the Policontri Classica festival and Festival Echos e PianoEchoes, both in Italy. Recently, The Quatuor Despax has recently returned from Colombia, where they gave masterclasses and concert in collaboration with Concuerda, a Canadian/Colombian organization that supports low-income children to have access to instruments and music lessons.

In summer 2006, the quartet won the contest in residence for the "Concerts aux îles du Bic". From 2011 to 2013 they were in residence at the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Montreal and now, since September 2013, the Despax Quartet is in residence at the church Notre-Dame-de-la- Gatineau Guadeloupe where they have a series of concerts.


alice hong


Alice Hong is an international award-winner both as a violinist and composer recently featured on CBC’s 2018 edition of “30 Hot Classical Musicians Under 30” and has appeared as a composer-performer for the Atlanta Symphony’s Conversation of Note series with Robert Spano. As a violinist, Alice has toured with Heifetz Institute of Music’s Heifetz on Tour as well as Lincoln Center Stage on Holland America Line touring Alaska and the Northwest Pacific. She has performed her own compositions at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Spoleto Festival USA, and Heifetz on Tour and has also played with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony as a substitute violinist. As an avid chamber musician, Alice has performed alongside esteemed musicians such as James Ehnes, Frans Helmerson, Mihaela Martin, Jonathan Crow, and Barry Shiffman, among others. Her performances have been featured on CBC Radio, WABE 90.1 Atlanta and WSMR 89.9 Tampa. Alice holds degrees from Rice University's Shepherd School of Music as a Dorothy R. Starling Foundation Scholar and the Cleveland Institute of Music, and she is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto as a Harold Carter Foundation fellow studying privately with Jonathan Crow.


As a composer, Alice has had compositions performed in Hungary, Netherlands, China, Czech Republic, Canada, the United States, and featured in film-scores for Studio3D productions. Her works are published by Edition MatchingArts and have won multiple awards from the ASCAP Morton Gould Awards as well as first prizes at the International Keuris Competition, Carl E. Baldassarre Composer-Virtuosi Competition, NorCal Viola Society Commission Contest, Pikes Peak Composition Competition, and third prize along with the audience prize for the 2018 Lands End Ensemble Composition Competition. Her pieces have been performed and read by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Ludwig Symphony Orchestra, CIM Symphony Orchestra, Amersfoort Youth Orchestra, and members of the New York Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Canadian Opera Company, Rolston String Quartet and Cypress String Quartet, among others. 



Alex Hetherington

Hetherington Headshot May 2019.jpg

Alex Hetherington, mezzo-soprano, is finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, studying with Monica Whicher. She has performed as a soloist with many ensembles around Toronto, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (The Bear, 2014), Orpheus Choir (Sidgwick Scholar, 2018-2019), Tapestry Opera (Songbook VIII, 2018), and the Camera Ensemble (Art Song Project, 2016). During her undergraduate degree, thanks to the John R. Stratton Visitor in Music Program, she had the honour of performing alongside Barbara Hannigan (2016), and in the masterclass for Jessye Norman (2019). Alex was the 2018 recipient of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Centennial Scholarship, given each year to the performance student with the “best overall musical talent who has the intention to pursue a career as a concert musician.”  Other recent awards include the 2018 Mary Ellen Trimble Award in recognition of her first-place performance in the Voice Class of the Toronto Kiwanis Festival.  

Alex is passionate about performing Canadian music, and loves working with composers to expand Canadian repertoire for singers.  She is a composer herself, with works performed in concert by the Gryphon Trio and members of Esprit Orchestra.  Alex is looking forward to making her role debut as Juno in Handel’s Semele with the Toronto Lyric Opera Centre, and upcoming performances as an Academy Fellow in the Toronto Summer Music Festival’s reGENERATION concerts.

Elizabeth Lee

Elizabeth Lee will be performing Ligeti’s solo Cello Sonata in the May / June Classical Context Concert titles “Prehistoric Ligeti”.

Elizabeth Lee will be performing Ligeti’s solo Cello Sonata in the May / June Classical Context Concert titles “Prehistoric Ligeti”.

Cellist Elizabeth Lee is an active performer throughout North America. She has been a member of professional orchestras including Evansville Philharmonic and Owensboro Symphony. She is a recent recipient of the apprenticeship for the Institute of Orchestral Studies with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Throughout her career, she has also had the opportunity to collaborate with distinguished musicians such as Joshua Bell and Pacifica Quartet. While being an active performer, Elizabeth is also passionate about music education. She hopes one day to become an influential educator. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Music from McGill University and Master’s of Music from Indiana University.


Adrian irvine


Adrian Irvine began his time in Toronto as a violin student of Erika Raum in the Masters program at the University of Toronto. During his time at U of T, Adrian performed as Concertmaster with both the U of T Symphony and Opera Orchestras in select programs. As a member of the Aeris String Quartet, he was a recipient of the Felix Galimir Award for Chamber Music in 2018. 

Adrian performs as a freelance musician throughout the GTA with ensembles and artists of a broad scope of styles and genres. Recently he was fortunate to have been a part of the North American premier of Toshio Hosokawa’s “The Maiden from the Sea.” He can also be heard on the debut recording of Bekah Simms’ JUNO nominated piece “Granitic,” as well as recent releases from Songwriter Hall of Fame award recipient Jojo Worthington, amongst others.

Adrian holds an undergraduate degree in violin performance from the Memorial University of Newfoundland where he studied with Dr. Nancy Dahn, as well as receiving a minor in composition for his studies with Dr. Andrew Staniland and Dr. Clark Ross. During his time at Memorial Adrian was a member of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and held principal positions with the MUN Chamber Orchestra. As a chamber musician he was invited to collaborate with faculty members Nancy Dahn, Timothy Steeves, and Vernon Regehr to present a program as part of the Music at Memorial recital series.

Andrew James Clark

Andrew James Clark is a multi-faceted Canadian composer currently residing in Toronto. While pursuing composition studies at the University of Toronto and serving as the composer in residence of the University of Toronto’s Wind Ensemble, he simultaneously serves as the Artistic Director of Classical Context, a concert series founded by students from the University providing a hybrid of new music and traditional repertoire to general audiences through lecture presentations. Andrew also holds the position of principal pianist at Heron Park Baptist Church. His piece The Valley of the Dry Bones was recently published by Counterpoint Library as part of their young composers series and he was also recently granted a conducting apprenticeship with Orchestra Toronto to be carried out during the months of March and April 2018. Recent awards include The University of Toronto’s 2016 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award in recognition of Andrew’s efforts in sustaining a music therapy program for elderly homeless musicians located in the downtown core. He has also been awarded the Gabriella Dory Prize in Music and the William Erving Fairclough Scholarship for graduating with the highest standing in U of T’s Undergraduate Composition Program, while also being the chosen recipient of the CNEF Eamonn O’Loghlin scholarship merited by his writings concerning the negative impacts of consumerism on our artistic culture. Andrew is currently employed as a theory and harmony classroom teacher in Scarborough’s Musical World F.A. Group, and as a Piano teacher at Dixon Hall’s Music School.