The Toomai String Quintet is an ensemble devoted to playing a variety of musical traditions from around the world, creating its own string arrangements, and commissioning new works. The award-winning group has been engaging audiences across the United States for over a decade, performing concerts in collaboration with presenters such as Carnegie Hall, 92 Y, and the Juilliard School, among others. A group of world-class musicians and passionate educators, Toomai combines these elements to create highly interactive programs for audiences of all ages.

Central to Toomai’s mission is the expansion of the Latin American repertoire for string ensemble. Toomai has arranged or commissioned over 20 works by Latin American composers. The ensemble also facilitates educational workshops that teach young people creative approaches to music through the lens of Cuban and Brazilian traditions. In 2018, Toomai released its debut album, Cuerdas Cubanas; in 2024, the group will release a new album of Brazilian music, Passos Brasileiros.

Hailed for their “light-handed authority” on their “magnificently executed” playing (the Squid’s Ear), Toomai has performed in many capacities throughout the United States, with appearances at Lincoln Center, the 92 Y, Philadelphia Arts Alliance, and for the Americas Society (NYC), and Bay Chamber Festival (Maine), among others. The quintet was a pilot ensemble for Carnegie Hall’s “Musical Connections” program, and they continue to perform regularly in schools, hospitals, and alternative care facilities throughout New York City. In addition, the Toomai String Quintet has brought its array of educational programs to students in California, Florida, and across the Northeast, and has presented interactive concerts in collaboration with organizations such as California Institute of the Arts, The Juilliard School, and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.

Formed in 2007 at The Juilliard School, the quintet is named after Rudyard Kipling’s short story “Toomai of the Elephants” in which a young boy journeys into the jungle to witness the dance of the wild elephants. The Toomai String Quintet aspires to cultivate a similar sense of curiosity and discovery by searching for diverse music and sharing it with its audience.

The quintet members are violinists Emilie-Anne Gendron and Alex Fortes, violist George Meyer, cellist Hamilton Berry, and bassist Andrew Roitstein.


Photo by Thomas Brunot