As former founding member and first violinist, Maureen Nelson led the Grammy-nominated Enso String Quartet for nearly two decades. Founded at Yale University in 1999, the quartet has been described by Strad magazine as “thrilling” and praised by the Washington Post for its “glorious sonorities…half honey, half molten lava.” The quartet quickly went on to win top prizes at the Concert Artists Guild competition and the Banff International String Quartet Competition. Classical Voice praised the ensemble as “one of the eminent string quartets of our era.”
Maureen has captivated audiences from major concert stages of the world, regularly concertizing throughout North America and abroad. Her final seasons with the Enso included performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and Library of Congress, as well as extensive tours of Australia, New Zealand, Colombia and Brazil. As a member of the quartet, Maureen held teaching residencies at Tanglewood, Interlochen and Rice University, and collaborated with with the United Kingdom-based organization Music for Autism. For their dedication to outreach in the community, the quartet received the prestigious Guarneri String Quartet Award from Chamber Music America.
Along with a busy touring and teaching schedule, Maureen made numerous critically acclaimed recordings on the Naxos label with the Enso. Of the complete string quartets by Alberto Ginastera, MusicWeb International declared, “The performances here by the Enso Quartet are quite staggeringly brilliant. I don’t think I have been so thrilled by the sound of a string quartet in a long time....If I could give this disc a standing ovation of one, I would!” Of the group’s recording of Strauss, Puccini and Verdi, the American Record Guide wrote that “The Enso Quartet plays...with a beautifully blended sound and...heartrending sensitivity.” Gramophone described their album of the two Piano Quintets by Dohnanyi as “about as good as it gets...all-round musical excellence.”
A native of Pennsylvania, Maureen was enrolled in Temple University’s Center for Gifted Young Musicians at the age of 12, and began attending the Curtis Institute of Music shortly thereafter. As a winner of the Greenfield Competition, Maureen appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra when she was 16. While studying in Germany, she was concertmaster of the Detmolder Kammerochester and has been a member of the Houston based River Oaks Chamber Orchestra since 2010. Much of her inspiration came from teachers Shmuel Ashkenasi, Jascha Brodsky, and Yumi Ninomiya Scott.
In 2016, Maureen became a full-time member of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.