Formed in 2007, the Black Dog String Quartet is composed of some of Vancouver’s finest musicians.

The group has appeared on the recordings of artists such as 54-40, Marianas Trench, Bleeding Through, and many others. Individual members have performed live on stage with some of the world’s top acts, including Rod Stewart, Kanye West, Sting, Michael Buble, Mariah Carey, The Eagles, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Video Games Live.

The quartet’s excellent playing and reputation have landed them in studios with producers like Garth Richardson (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine), Joe Chiccarelli (Elton John, Alanis Morissette), Dave Genn (54-40), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), and the late Olivia Quan (Hey Ocean, City & Colour). Recent performance highlights include opening for Sarah McLachlan at the SPC Global Conference, a concert with acclaimed soprano Measha Brueggergosman at the Chan Centre, and an appearance at the Shambhala Music Festival.

Consistently delivering performances with “conviction and imaginative sensitivity” (Vancouver Classical Music)the Black Dog String Quartet appears regularly at various public and private events, including classical chamber concerts, weddings, and corporate functions, as well as on film and television scores and other studio recordings. They’ve been a featured ensemble at the Quartetti Festival of String Quartets, Sonic Boom Festival of New Music, and Classical Revolution Vancouver, and all four members play regularly with multiple symphony orchestras.

Their solid classical background, high skill level, and collective open-mindedness set the Black Dog String Quartet apart as one of Vancouver’s most unique and versatile ensembles. The quartet’s debut album, a collection of original songs for string quartet and voice composed by John Kastelic, was released in late April 2023.

Elyse Jacobson Violin

Musically inclined from birth, Seattle native Elyse Jacobson began studying the violin at the age of five and completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance at the University of British Columbia. An award-winning chamber musician, she has had the privilege of receiving mentorship from members of the Kronos, Penderecki, and St. Lawrence quartets, among many others, and was a two-time semifinalist at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. She is Assistant Concertmaster of the Kamloops Symphony and Concertmaster of the Plastic Acid Orchestra, and is a founding member of both the Allegra Chamber Orchestra and the Black Dog String Quartet. Elyse enjoys a richly diverse musical career: in addition to her regular classical performances, she has also performed and recorded with such artists as Michael Buble, Rod Stewart, Kanye West, Marianas Trench, Father John Misty, The New Pornographers, Sarah Slean, Alex Cuba, and numerous others.

Molly MacKinnon Violin

Molly MacKinnon is an award-winning violinist and collaborative artist based out of Vancouver BC on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples. An interdisciplinary creator and performer with a passion for storytelling through music, Molly has been seen on stages all across the city. Recent projects include The Quarantettes; a roving singing group brought into being during the pandemic, Good Things To Do; a digital creation centred on technological intimacy and gentleness; and Never the Last; a concert/theatre hybrid exploring the life and work of 20th century composer Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté. Never The Last received 5 Jessie Richardson Theatre award nominations in 2019, winning in the Special Achievement Award category for outstanding interdisciplinary collaboration. Molly’s extensive orchestral experience includes the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Island Symphony, the Plastic Acid Orchestra, the Vancouver Film Orchestra, and the Allegra Chamber Orchestra. She is also the co-founder of Concerts On Tap, a music series that brings together Vancouver craft breweries and classical music.

John Kastelic Viola

A phenomenally gifted musician, John Kastelic is highly sought-after as a violist, violinist, composer, and arranger. Equally at home in classical, folk, pop, and experimental music, he has performed on stage with internationally renowned artists including Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé. He has performed as principal violist with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and the Plastic Acid Orchestra. He is a regular member of the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra. Along with his brother, Tony Kastelic, he is half of the fiddle-rock duo, Salt Thief. John holds a Bachelor’s Degree in music from the University of British Columbia where graduated with a double-major in composition and music scholarship, studying viola with David Harding. Raised in southern Alberta, he has called Vancouver home since 2005.

Doug Gorkoff Cello

Doug Gorkoff is a full-time cellist and is very active throughout the Lower Mainland as a performer, educator and session musician. He regularly plays in the cello section for the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and as principal cello for the Plastic Acid Orchestra. Doug’s extremely diverse musical interests and creative flexibility have allowed him to contribute and collaborate on recordings of many different genres including with Tambura Rasa, 54-40, Michael Moriarty, Strapping Young Lad, Marianas Trench, and many more. He has been fortunate enough to perform alongside many live acts, most notably Sting, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Johnny Mathis, Randy Quaid and Dan Mangan. In addition to maintaining a thriving private teaching studio, Doug is also in demand as a clinician, adjudicator and sectional coach.