Radcliffe Chamber Music Residency at Oxford: 2015-2018
Competition Winners: Villiers String Quartet
The Villiers Quartet has won a three-year residency at the Faculty of Music at the University of
Oxford, emerging victorious at the public competition held on 1 March at the Holywell Music
Room. As part of the three-year residency, supported by the Radcliffe Trust and lasting from
2015 to 2018, the ensemble will perform an annual series of concerts in Oxford’s historic venues,
the Holywell Music Room and the Sheldonian Theatre. They will coach student performers, work
with student composers and collaborate on research projects, amongst other things. Music at
Oxford will provide them with a platform in the city and help to promote them.
In 2012 the Faculty of Music at the University of Oxford launched a Chamber Music Residency
with the generous support of the Radcliffe Trust. The first recipients were the Cavaleri Quartet.
The residency is an exciting opportunity for a dynamic string quartet to provide and promote
chamber music in Oxford. It aims to attract ensembles who wish to develop and deepen their
approach to works from the standard repertoire as well as newly composed music, and who
have an active interest in interacting creatively with the Faculty’s own performers, composers,
and musicologists with interests in chamber music. It also aims to support the artistic and
professional development of the selected group.
Jessica Duchen says: ‘James Dickenson (first violin), Tamaki Higashi (second violin), Carmen
Flores (viola) and Nick Stringfellow (cello) impressed the jury with an impassioned performance
of the complete Elgar String Quartet, plus a sensitive reading of the set work, a short quartet by
Eugene Birman, as well as their focus, energy and expertise in coaching a student ensemble in
Smetana’s G minor Piano Trio. The other shortlisted groups were the Ligeti Quartet and the Piatti
Quartet. Each ensemble performed for the jury and audience for 25 minutes, then gave a 15-
minute coaching session on the Smetana. The jury was chaired by Professor Mine Dogantan-
Dack, with Professor Martyn Harry, cellist Pál Banda, Music at Oxford’s Rebecca Dawson, and
your editor from Amati, music journalist Jessica Duchen.’
The Villiers Quartet is one of the most charismatic and adventurous quartets of the British
chamber music scene. Nothing is beyond their repertoire as they define the string quartet for
the 21st century. Dedicated to the established works of Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, they
have also developed a reputation as exceptional interpreters of English composers including
Elgar, Britten and Delius. Having toured across the UK and internationally, they have been
declared "one of the best young quartets around today" (Jerry Horner, Fine Arts Quartet), and
their performances of Shostakovich and Tischenko have been hailed as "masterful playing"
Named after Villiers Street in London's colourful musical epicentre, the Villiers Quartet
encompasses the grand and iconic spirit of the extraordinary music tradition in London. In
October 2014, Naxos released their debut CD of the complete quartets of Robert Still, and they
are the featured quartet on the soundtrack to the BBC Primetime Drama Lady Chatterley's
Lover, airing in 2015. Their recording of Sanctus for string quartet by Canadian-Estonian
composer Riho Maimets, a recording of the Shostakovich and David Matthews piano quintets for
Somm Recordings, and a BBC radio broadcast of their Delius & Elgar programme in 2015 are just
some of the exciting highlights of the Villiers Quartet this season.
For further information, interviews, biographies and photographs, please contact John Cronin.
John Cronin – Music & Media Consulting
Telephone: 01354 740847 | 07774 426966
Address: Music & Media Consulting Limited, 3 Cypress Close, Doddington, Cambridgeshire PE15 0LE