Hoplite Quartet Travels to Spain for Competition

Student trombone quartet makes the finals of prestigious international competition.

Detroit Orchestra Hall, the Hoplite Quartet opens for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. (December, 2014)

A trombone quartet formed by four student colleagues in the MSU College of Music will be stepping onto the international stage this summer after being selected as a finalist in a prestigious competition.

Members of the Spartan Hoplite Quartet will travel to Valencia, Spain, in early July to compete as the only U.S. group in the finals of the 2015 International Trombone Festival. Other quartet finalist representation comes from the Amsterdam Conservatory and the University of Berlin.

“I am extremely proud of this outstanding quartet,” says Associate Professor of Trombone Ava Ordman, who coaches the group. “These students are to be congratulated on their hard work and dedication to bringing this group to such a high level of performance.”

Students Sean Biehn, Michael Ross, Stefan Stolarchuk, and Aaron Wright founded the group as a way to get together socially and to perfect quartet repertoire for College and Trombone Studio recitals. After a while, the four trombonists discovered their styles and sound “clicked” and decided to keep the quartet together to explore other venues.

Taking their name from the foot soldiers in the ancient Spartan infantry, The Hoplites were the “opening act” for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall in December 2014. Their recording of Saskia Apon’s “Eerste Trombone Kwartet” in ITA’s quartet competition resulted in their selection as a finalist for ITA’s 2015 summer festival.

“This is a huge honor for us, especially considering we are the only American ensemble to be picked for this competition,” says Stolarchuk. “We are very excited to be competing against the other finalists, and to be able to do it in such an amazing place.  It’s a privilege to be entering this competition with three great friends and amazing colleagues.”

Formed in 1972, the ITA is the largest association of trombonists with 4,000 members from 69 countries. The Hoplite’s performance will be judged by some of the top trombonists in the world. Past finalists and winners of the ITA Quartet Competition include many of today’s top orchestral performers and collegiate educators.

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