The Villiers Quartet are travelling to the USA for their second American tour on the 2nd November 2016.
They will perform at the Setnor School of Music of Syracuse University, New York (3 - 4 November) and take part in a Music Residency with the Hopkins Center for the Arts and the Music Department of Dartmouth College, New Hampshire (8-12 November). The Villiers Quartet will also perform in Boston, Massachusetts and have additional performances in Hanover, New Hampshire. The final concert on the 12th November is a performance with Pianist-in Residence Sally Pinkas at Dartmouth’s Rollins Chapel, featuring the rarely performed Piano Quintet in D minor by English composer Frank Bridge. While at Dartmouth, the Villiers Quartet will also collaborate with students and visit classes at Dartmouth College's Music Department, working with Professors Steve Swayne, Theodore Levin, and Kui Dong.
Following this USA tour, the Villiers Quartet will give a concert with clarinettist Victoria Soames Samek for the St. Andrew’s Music Festival in Sheffield on 19th November. They will play music by the British composer Ray Kohn. The Villiers Quartet will then return to the University of Oxford, to continue their residency at the Faculty of Music (20 - 24 November), where they will perform works by Tchiakovsky, Nielsen, Sibelius, and music by University of Oxford professor Robert Saxton.
There are two CDs to be released by Naxos next year. Their CD with music by Peter Racine Fricker will be launched in London on 13th February 2017 and their CD with works by Elgar and Delius will also be launched in London on 24th May 2017.
For further information please contact John Cronin at Music and Media @
Mary Kaptein @
The Villiers Quartet is pleased to announce it has joined the roster of Mary Kaptein Management. MKM is based in the Netherlands and provides international management for a small group of classical musicians. Mary Kaptein, Director of MKM, adds “The Villiers Quartet are renowned for their interpretations of works by British composers and have a residency in Oxford. Currently they are recording a new CD with quartets by Elgar and Delius.” The Villiers Quartet looks ahead to new collaborations with Mary Kaptein Management.
Kristina Wolfe, composer of her work Planctus, is the Winner of the 2016 VQ New Works Competition. After an evening celebrating new music at the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building at St. Hilda's College, Oxford University, Kristina's piece was voted by the audience as the winner on 27th May 2016. The prizes of the final, announced by presenter Paul Gambaccini, were in this order:
Kristina Wolfe - Planctus
Ian Munro - String Quartet No. 1 "from an exhibition of Australian woodcuts"
Andrew Guo - Fantasy for string quartet
March 26, 2015
by Clive Peacock
Earlier in the month Villiers emerged as the winners of the Radcliffe Competition in Oxford entitling them to a three year residency within Oxford University. Their rivals included previous Leamington Music performers Piatti and the much talked about Ligeti. Villiers impressed the Leamington audience, just as they impressed the Oxford jury, with an impassioned performance of Elgar’s String Quartet in E minor Opus 83, composed in 1918 and dedicated to the original Brodsky Quartet. This remains as only one of three major chamber works Elgar composed – an earlier string quartet, Opus 8 he destroyed. The seclusion of a cottage in West Sussex, to escape the war, gave Elgar the inspiration to compose.
James Dickenson led the three punishing movements confidently, maintaining the quartet’s reputation for adventurous interpretations of English composers. The middle of the three movements (piacevole) is indeed a most agreeable movement, “capturing the sunshine” as Lady Elgar described it.
If there is a quartet that typifies what it means to be unjustly neglected then it’s the String Quartet by Delius! Fortunately, viola player Carmen Flores, took the opportunity to promote this piece and describe the Delius background; the impact of time spent in Jacksonville, Florida; the Leipzig and Paris highlights and the influence of Wagner and Grieg producing some of the most lyrical music to emerge from the pen of an Englishman. What a joy to listen to her word-perfect delivery with every word heard by all, together with a bit of humour – an excellent demonstration of building rapport with an audience!
With elements of Ravel and something of Debussy, the Delius Quartet in the hands of Villiers has moments of thoughtful animation which suits them well, most particularly the ‘Late Swallows’ third movement reflecting the Delius wish to return to France from Germany where he achieved much of his success. Flores viola playing was memorable.
Villiers chose to open their concert with Haydn’s 46th quartet, Opus 55 No2 in F minor (nicknamed the razor). Lots of concentration, clever interpretation of pauses and intricate work between cello (Nick Stringfellow) and viola were noted hallmarks of this enterprising quartet.
For original link, visit: http://archive.stratford-herald.com/34735-review-villiers-string-quarter.html
The Villiers Quartet's recording of Piano Quintets by David Matthews and Dmitri Shostakovich for SOMM Records, recorded with pianist Martin Cousin, was named Recording of the Month by MusicWeb International, for the month of April 2016. Read the review at http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2016/Apr/Shostakovich_quintet_SOMMCD0157.htm
The Villiers Quartet, the Oxford University Faculty of Music Quartet-in-Residence, will be joined by outstanding music presenter and Oxford alumnus Paul Gambaccini, as host of the final round for the international 2016 VQ New Works Competition Final. The Villiers Quartet will perform the works of the three finalists, Andrew Guo (USA), Ian Munro (AUSTRALIA), and Kristina Wolfe (USA/DENMARK). The concert will take place on Friday, May 27th at 7:00pm at the Jacqueline Du Pre Music Building. The concert will also be livestreamed. The winner will be determined by audience vote. Tickets can be purchased at the JDP Music Building website.
Andrew Guo (USA) – Fantasy
Ian Munro (Australia) – String Quartet No. 1 'from an exhibition of Australian woodcuts'
Kristina Wolfe (USA/Denmark) – Planctus
with special guest host,
BBC presenter Paul Gambaccini
VILLIERS STRING QUARTET
(James Dickenson, Tamaki Higashi violins, Carmen Flores viola, Nick Stringfellow cello)
MARTIN COUSIN piano
David Matthews says in the CD booklet notes:"When I wrote a piano quartet in 1995 I called it A Song and Dance Sketchbook because I didn't want to follow the classical formal scheme, but also to acknowledge that each of its six movements was either a song or a dance. In this Piano Quintet I chose to adhere, more or less, to the traditional scheme: four movements, with a scherzo and a slow movement in the middle. The song and dance element, however, remains just as predominant. The outer movements are essentially lyrical while the middle movements are dance movements, with the chaconne third movement a blend of song and dance."
The first movement is based almost entirely on variations of the motif heard in the piano after the opening three chords. The second movement is a Tango, a form that has come to interest David Matthews a great deal. This one, his fourth tango, is in some ways the most traditional, since the tango seems particularly suited to the medium of piano and strings. The third movement Chaconne is in agiocoso mood with an arresting Finale which grew out of a walking holiday in Italy in the spring of 2004 on an Easter Sunday morning. Matthews heard the bells of the nearby town of Montefalco and they appear at the centre of the movement as he notated them, with the rest of the thematic material derived from them.
The Shostakovich Piano Quintet is considered one of his finest works and one of a small handful of great piano quintets written in the 20th century. There is a certain affinity between the Quintet by David Matthews and that of Shostakovich - similarities in pace and mood as well as the special interaction between piano and strings and also the appearance, in the first movement, of a tiny three-note cell begun by the piano that in the Shostakovich, can be traced all through the work. Shostakovich began work on the Quintet in the summer of 1940 and completed it in September. It was premiered in November 1940 by the Beethoven Quartet for whom he wrote most of his string quartets, with the composer at the piano. It was a great success and was awarded the Stalin Prize of 100,000 roubles, a gesture which seemed to confirm the complete public rehabilitation of the composer following the regime's blistering attacks on his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.
The Villiers Quartet announces the 3 finalists of the VQ New Works Competition 2016. The finalists were chosen by public vote after an online semifinal round. (Names in alphabetical order):
Andrew Guo (USA)
Ian Munro (AUSTRALIA)
String Quartet No. 1 'from an exhibition of Australian woodcuts'
Kristina Wolfe (USA/DENMARK)
The Villiers Quartet will perform these works live in the final round at the Jacqueline Du Pre Music Building, Oxford University, on May 27th. The concert will be livestreamed, and the audience will vote for the winner. For more information, visit www.villiersquartet.com/competition2016
Congratulations to the finalists!
Our final VQ Composer Spotlight features composer and sound artist Kristina Wolfe. Kristina is a PhD candidate in Multimedia and Computer Music Experiments (MEME) at Brown University. Her music often bridges the chasm of time across two worlds, between the historical and the contemporary, and her interests run the range of electronic music, spectral music, medievalism, lutherie, and musical scoring techniques. Kristina plays the Viola da gamba, Electric Bass and Double Bass. Her work Planctus for quartet uses scordatura tuning, which was often used in Renaissance viols and lutes, to create special timbres and chords between the players.
Where are you from?
I am from Denmark and the United States. I grew up spending summers in the Mols Bjerge area of Denmark, and its history and beautiful scenery really inspired me and my compositional practice. I currently live with my husband in Florida.
What got you interested in composition?
I think I have always been interested in composition. When I was very young, I was driven to try to compose music but I felt like I didn’t know what to do. I was very interested in sounds and I would try to work with them using tape recorders, keys on the piano, poetry singing - anything I could find. I would also try to record my proto-compositions using invented notations that I could never remember how to use. Eventually I began formal musical training but my interest in writing music was present long before that time.
Who have been your biggest musical influences?
Guillaume de Machaut, Giacinto Scelsi, John Jenkins, Pauline Oliveros, Jonathan Harvey, G.F. Haas, Liza Lim, and Horatiu Radulescu.
I am also heavily influenced by atmosphere: environment, time, space, place, etc., and many of the influences on my work have come from wandering through locations I find ghostly or inspiring.
What are some challenges or advantages when writing for string quartet?
My favorite aspect of writing for string quartet is the opportunity to work with subtleties of timbre. Voices can blend into a single sound and then immediately leap out into diverse registers and textures such as the sound of wind, scratching, the sounds of metal, wood, or an ethereal harmonic. Also, I love the intimacy of a string quartet. Every member is equally important and equally beautiful. No one player can hide or be hidden by any other.
Anything else you wish to say about Planctus?
Planctus is special to me. I began to compose this lament after hearing the hollow, ancient, almost AM radio-like timbre high above the 4th position on the Cello’s lowest string. It spoke to something I was thinking about at the time. Once I began, I became very devoted to finishing the piece and did nothing else until it was written down. I generally try to pace myself when composing, but this time I could not. Afterwards, I reworked the score numerous times to communicate the textures of the work in the notation.
Visit the VQ New Works Competition Page to hear Kristina's piece.
Kristina Wolfe - photo credit Arvid Tomayko-Peters