Eclectica is a Vermont-based string quartet dedicated to exploring the boundaries of the string quartet repertoire. Their eclectic programs probe the creative intersection between classical and traditional music, highlight new compositions that use the string quartet in unusual ways, and feature works by women and composers of color. Violinists Sofia Hirsch and Laura Markowitz, violist Ana Ruesink, and cellist John Dunlop started playing together about five years ago, inspired by a mutual love for the boundary-bending music of the Danish String Quartet. Since then, they've shared their musical explorations in concert settings as varied as libraries, nursing homes, backyards, film houses, churches, and barns.
Sofia Hirsch, violin
Inspired by her mother, also a violinist, Sofia Hirsch began studying violin at 4. She loved playing in the VYO ('84-88) and her VYO string quartet, competed nationally at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, Junior Division. College took her in other directions, and it wasn't till 2000 that she joined the Vermont Symphony, then BCO as a founding member, and many other groups across the state including Dartmouth Handel Society, Dartmouth Symphony, Middlebury Opera, Middlebury Bach Festival and others. She performs regularly in Brandon, Stowe and Burlington with the Northern Third Piano Quartet. Her latest ventures combine live music and live dance, involving two of her dance mentors, past and current. She provides the music. Threads and Thresholds with Hannah Dennison in East Calais' historic Kent Museum, and across the state with Farm to Ballet, performing the solo in Vivaldi's 4 seasons. Sofia lives in South Burlington.
Laura Markowitz, violin
Laura Markowitz is a member of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and also plays in the Burlington Chamber Orchestra. Born in Pittsburgh, PA she earned her Bachelor’s in Music from Indiana University. Her teachers include Paul Biss, Peter Marsh and Larry Shapiro. Before moving to Vermont in 1991, her professional career included the Florida Orchestra (Tampa), the Ohio Chamber Orchestra (Cleveland) and the Santiago Philharmonic (Chile). Laura takes part in various chamber concerts in the area, as well as providing ambient string music for local singers and groups including Deb Flanders, Cricket Blue and Bella Voce. An avid fiddler in swedish and celtic styles, she is a member of the band Symphony Reel, which plays for children across the state through the VSO’s Symphony Kids program. Laura maintains a teaching studio in Richmond, alongside her life partner, cellist John Dunlop.
Ana Ruesink, viola
Ana Ruesink, viola, enjoys exploring musical styles and traditions. An active freelance musician, she performs with the Vermont Symphony, Playing for Good, Dartmouth Symphony, and other regional ensembles. She plays English country dance music with her band Impropriety, Irish and Scandinavian tunes with her trio Symphony Reel, and an eclectic mix of old-time and traditional music with the Barker Family String Band (featuring her guitar-playing husband and two daughters). Beyond her musical pursuits, Ana likes to read, hike, and make kefir.
John Dunlop, cello
John Dunlop has been principal cellist with the Vermont Symphony, Burlington Chamber Orchestra, Opera Company of Middlebury, Opera North, Vermont Mozart Festival, Vermont Virtuosi and the Green Mountain Opera Festival. He has performed as soloist with both the VSO and BCO. John is also the cellist with TURNmusic, which features many of the most interesting young composers of our time, as well as the newly formed Stellaria Piano Trio. He studied under Richard Kapuscinski at Oberlin Conservatory and Bonnie Hampton at the San Francisco Conservatory, and has played in master classes for Yo Yo Ma, Jerry Grossman, Steve Doane and others. John has also composed and recorded several award-wining film soundtracks for short films, including a documentary on childhood hunger in Vermont, where he called on his skills as a guitarist and bouzouki player in addition to cello. He has played for Bernadette Peters, Lyle Lovett and Phish. John is Vermont's busiest cellist!