The University of St Andrews Music Centre has announced that the Fitzwilliam String Quartet will take up a new role as Quartet in Residence.
Regular visitors to the University for nearly a decade, the renowned ensemble will be involved in a variety of activities including the regular coaching of student string players and scholarship groups and the mentoring of advanced players looking to enter postgraduate study and/or the music profession.
The group will also continue to participate in special projects with University groups such as Byre Opera and St Salvator’s Chapel Choir as well as leading its hugely popular Strings in Spring Course for student, amateur and young professional quartets from throughout the UK and beyond.
The Fitzwilliam String Quartet was founded at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, in October 1968, which makes the Fitzwilliam one of the longest established string quartets in the world.
A wide range of events to celebrate the Quartet’s fiftieth anniversary will include a new commission from Roderick Williams, collaborations with Ex Cathedra featuring works by Liz Johnson and Alec Roth, and a collaboration with a quartet of dancers who will be choreographing Shostakovich string quartets. The Quartet will perform throughout the country, beginning with six concerts in Hay-on-Wye, Winchester, Cumbria and Yorkshire. New CDs will be issued of Schubert on gut strings and a double album of works by Shostakovich.
Michael Downes, the University’s Director of Music, said: “Since the Fitzwilliam String Quartet first visited St Andrews in 2010, they have made an enormous impact on musical life in the University and the town. As one of the few leading British quartets to perform regularly on both modern and period instruments, their incredibly versatile musicianship has been displayed in projects as diverse as productions of Baroque opera (most recently they led the orchestra for Handel’s Xerxes in the Byre), CD recordings with St Salvator’s Chapel Choir and premiering contemporary works with principals from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
“They are deeply committed to the development of both young and amateur string players and the generosity with which they share their expertise has already benefitted hundreds of musicians in St Andrews, whether in the masterclasses and coaching they have undertaken with the student body, or on the annual Strings in Spring courses that attract musicians from across the UK and beyond.
“I am delighted that they have accepted our invitation to become the University’s Quartet in Residence, and look forward to working with them in this exciting phase of the University’s music, as we begin working on our purpose-built Music Centre in St Mary’s College.”
Lucy Russell, the Quartet’s first violinist, commented: “It is a huge privilege to be appointed as the Quartet in Residence. The group is excited to be associated with this exceptional University, and will be delighted to contribute to its already burgeoning musical scene.”
The residency will be launched at a special concert at which the Fitzwilliam String Quartet will appear alongside the St Andrews Chamber Orchestra, invited alumni and string players from the local community to perform two of the greatest British works for string ensemble: Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.
The concert will take place in the Younger Hall on Saturday 20 October at 7.30pm, with a pre-performance event at 6.30pm in which members of the Quartet will be in conversation with Michael Downes about their life in music.
Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.University news