About UsArtistic Leadership

Laura Colgate

Concert Leader

Praised by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as “remarkably poised…sensitive and majestic,” violinist Laura Colgate enjoys a versatile career as a chamber and orchestral musician, soloist, educator, and innovator. Having performed worldwide across Europe, Asia, and North America, she has performed on stages including the Barbican Centre, Kennedy Center, and multiple appearances at Carnegie Hall.

Laura currently lives in Takoma Park, MD, and was formerly Concertmaster of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina and the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. She frequently performs as a substitute with several major orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of the IRIS Chamber Orchestra in her hometown, Memphis, TN. 

She completed her Doctorate from the University of Maryland (UMD) School of Music, focusing her thesis on Women Composers. Laura is passionate about being an innovator in the world of classical music, and in March 2018 co-founded the Boulanger Initiative, an advocacy organization for women composers based in D.C., for which she holds the position of Executive and Artistic Director. The Initiative champions the works of women composers through consulting, performance, education, and commissions, and launched its performance series with the Women Composers (WoCo) Festival in D.C. March 8-10, 2019.

As founder and previous first violinist of Excelsa Quartet, Laura studied at the Conservatory in Luzern, Switzerland, and in the Professional Quartet Training Program with the Alban Berg Quartet in Cologne, Germany. The Quartet held the Fellowship Quartet Residency at UMD from 2013-2016, and were First Prize winners at the Charles Hennen 26th International Chamber Music Competition for Strings in The Netherlands.

The quartet worked closely with members of the Guarneri, Pavel Haas, Mosaiques, Emerson, St. Lawrence, and Juilliard quartets. They also held multiple performances at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, performing on various instruments within the Smithsonian Instrument Collection. In 2015, the quartet commissioned and gave the world premiere of John Heiss’s Microcosms.

Festival appearances include Schleswig Holstein Music Festival Orchestra (Germany), Verbier Festival Orchestra (Switzlerand), Great Lakes Summer Chamber Music Festival (Detroit, MI), St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar (Stanford University), Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme (Aldeburgh, UK), and the McGill International String Quartet Academy (Montreal, QC). She has performed under world-renowned conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Christoph Eschenbach, Christopher Hogwood, Kent Nagano, Semyon Bychkov, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, and Herbert Blomstedt.

While working towards her Master’s Degree with David Takeno and Malin Broman at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London in 2007, Laura focused on the art of Classical Improvisation with David Dolan and performed a solo recital of improvised Mozart sonatas in the Barbican Centre.

After taking second place in the Dorothy C. Baker Violin Competition in 2007 and first place in 2008, Laura was awarded the privilege of using a Joseph Filius Andreas Guarnerius violin (1715) for two years.

As a member of the Young Artist Program, Laura attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with David Updegraff. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2006 with Lucy Chapman at the New England Conservatory (NEC), and received a Graduate Diploma from NEC in 2009 under Boston Symphony Orchestra concertmaster, Malcolm Lowe.

As a passionate educator of solo and chamber music, Laura has given masterclasses throughout the US and Europe, and maintains a small studio of private students in the DC area.

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