SYLVESTRIS QUARTET is the San Francisco Bay Area’s new historically informed string quartet, performing music from the entire “gut-string era”… that is, from the 17th century up through World War II. Sylvestris in known for programming that explores the cyclical nature of music, looking forward from a historical perspective. Violinists Anna Washburn and Tyler Lewis, violist Aaron Westman, and cellist Gretchen Claassen play with many of the nation’s leading period instrument ensembles, including Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Bach Collegium San Diego, and Agave Baroque, and hold degrees from Juilliard, Indiana University School of Music, Boston University, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
In the midst of their fourth season together, Sylvestris recently released their first album The Good Song, Fauré in the 1890s featuring baritone Harry Baechtel of Portland State University, pianist Michael Seregow of Ball State University, and an incredibly beautiful 1869 Érard piano. Recently, the quartet has performed with the Sonoma State Orchestra as well as SF Music Day and Presidio Sessions—both presented by InterMusic in San Francisco. Other recent performances include Barefoot Chamber Concerts, Resonance and Fifth Street Farms in Berkeley, California, and on tour at the University of Oregon, Portland State University, for a live studio audience for “Thursdays @ Three” on All-Classical Portland, and a series of concerts on the Pacific Music Works Underground series in Seattle. Look out for more information about our upcoming performances in spring 2020 at Berkeley Early Music Festival Fringe and other bay-area venues. The quartet looks forward (and, westward!) to performing as part of the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival during the summer of 2020 for our third summer in row.
Anna Washburn, violin, grew up fiddling in the beautiful state of Maine and now calls the Bay Area home. She performs and records on period violin and viola with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Bach Collegium San Diego, Musica Angelica, Agave Baroque, Live Oak Baroque Orchestra, MUSA, and Marin Baroque.
In addition to her devotion to period performance, Anna also appears on stage with a variety of ensembles, from recording and performing with pop-orchestra Magik*Magik Orchestra with artists like Sting, Chicago, John Vanderslice, Third Eye Blind, The Dodos, Hauschka and Dustin O’Halloran… to hip hop/opera group Ensemble Mik Nawooj… to the Commonwealth Club’s series “Music Matters,” in a multi-part lecture series on Mozart…to performances with Symphony Silicon Valley, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Monterey Symphony, and Stockton Symphony.
Anna has studied with Bettina Mussumeli, Elizabeth Blumenstock, and Peter Zazofky, and has degrees in violin from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Boston University.
Tyler Lewis, violin, received his B.A. from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music while under the instruction of Bettina Mussumeli, and has also appeared in master classes with Robert Mann, James Greening-Valenzuela and Zaven Melikian. Specializing in Baroque music, Tyler performs with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and has performed with the ensemble at Mostly Mozart at Lincoln Center in New York City, St. Paul International Chamber Orchestra Festival, as well as at the Norfolk and Tangelwood Music Festivals.
Additionally, Tyler performs with Live Oak Baroque Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, San Francisco Bach Choir, Bach Collegium San Diego. He has also been a part of Festival Del Sole in Napa Valley, Victoria Bach Festival, and Festival of Spring with Chinese pop singer Song Zuying. With his spare time he enjoys nights under the stars with a telescope, practicing the art of Lapidary, cooking, and racing motorcycles.
Aaron Westman, viola, was a “metal-head” and prog rock fan growing up in California. In college, he began to focus on the electric guitar of the seventeenth century: the violin. A “brilliantly virtuosic” (EMA) violinist and violist, he has made a career for himself as “one of the most popular period instrumentalists on the west coast” (Press Democrat). He performs as a soloist and chamber musician with Agave Baroque, ABS, El Mundo, Ensemble Mirable, Live Oak Baroque Orchestra, MUSA, Musica Pacifica, Seicento String Band, Seraphic Fire, and The Vivaldi Project. As a principal player, Aaron works with ABS, Berkeley West Edge Opera, Bach Collegium San Diego, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Musica Angelica, Musikanten Montana, Magnificat, New Hampshire Music Festival, and performs regularly with Wiener Akademie and, since 2006, with Philharmonia Baroque.
Aaron co-directs the award winning ensembles Agave and LOBO. VGo Recordings released his third album on the label, Concertos for Winter, and features Aaron as a soloist in two Vivaldi concertos with LOBO alongside co-director Elizabeth Blumenstock.
Aaron is currently Music Director of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, and in the summer teaches in Tuscany. He taught at CalArts for three years.
Gretchen Claassen, cello, a versatile chamber musician, has performed with some of the west coast’s leading baroque specialists, including American Bach Soloists, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Musica Angelica, Musica Pacifica, Agave Baroque and Ars Minerva, and is the recipient of the 2015 Jeffrey Thomas Award. She is also a founding member of MUSA and the Cello Street Quartet, which has taken her around the world participating in the American Music Abroad program through the U.S. State Department.
Gretchen was a student of Bonnie Hampton at The Juilliard School, where she received a BM in ‘Cello Performance. In 2012, she was awarded an Artist’s Certificate in Chamber Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she studied with Jennifer Culp and Elisabeth Reed. As a participant in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s acclaimed Chamber Music Masters series, Gretchen has collaborated with Menahem Pressler, Robert Mann, Bonnie Hampton, Roberto Diaz, and Joseph Swensen.