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Fitzwilliam String Quartet

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THE FSQ STORY Founded in 1968 by four Cambridge undergraduates, the Fitzwilliam Quartet was one of the first of a long line of distinguished quartets to have emerged under the guidance of Sidney Griller at the Royal Academy of Music. Undoubtedly it was their much documented Shostakovich connection which first catapulted them into the public eye, only a year into their Residency at York University: following the composer's widely reported train journey north to hear their British première of his thirteenth quartet their friendship (the composer’s own word!) prospered through correspondence, and the arrival of the next two quartets when they were finished. At the time of his death, in August 1975, plans had already been finalised for them to spend a week with him in Moscow, only a month or so later. Just before his own death Benjamin Britten later reported to them that Shostakovich had told him the Fitzwilliam were his “preferred performers of my quartets”. Having introduced his last three quartets to the West, they soon became the first ever group to record and perform all fifteen – complete cycles were given in a number of major centres, including London, New York, and Montréal. The recordings (now reissued for a third time) gained many international awards – including the very first Gramophone Award for chamber music (in 1977) and inclusion in the same magazine’s “Hundred Greatest-ever Recordings” (November 2005) – securing for them a world wide concert schedule and a long term contract with Decca. If the quartet’s reputation was originally fostered by the Shostakovich connection, they are at pains to avoid resting on those particular laurels, and the subsequent exploration of masterworks from less familiar regions of the repertoire has long given their concert programmes and discography a recognisably unconventional look. Additionally they have always been enthusiastic in accepting the responsibility of promoting music of their own generation: the hotbed of New Music at York was a starting point, resulting in over 40 additions to the new century’s repertoire. It was also the university’s reputation for historical performance studies which encouraged them to carry an extra set of instruments for earlier repertoire – they remain one of the very few string quartets in Britain using period instruments, making them unique in that they perform on both early and modern set-ups (sometimes within the same concert!). The Fitzwilliam had first been appointed Quartet-in-Residence at York (succeeding the Amadeus) on graduating from Cambridge in 1971, and remained there until 1986 (apart from three years at Warwick from 1974), enabling them to concentrate full time on quartet and academic work. In 1978 their university connections were extended to the USA, where they became Affiliate Artists at Bucknell, Pennsylvania. Their achievements were recognised there through Honorary Doctorates of Music – conferred in 1981 by Shostakovich’s son, Maxim. To complete the circle, they are now thirteen years into a new Residency, back at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge! Three years ago they began an association with Southern Sinfonia – a group which functions as a symphony, chamber, or baroque orchestra – with whom they play as section principals and soloists. Highlights of 2009/2010 include being artists-in-residence at the Ryedale Music Festival in North Yorkshire and at the Festival de l'Abbaye du Pin near Poitiers, France, concerts at the Castle Hotel Taunton, and a second Martin Randall Travel cruise from Athens to Istanbul – this taking in a number of ancient amphitheatres en route (most spectacularly, Ephesus). Future plans include tours in Scotland, South Africa and Newfoundland, a resumption of their collaboration with the German saxophonist and composer Uwe Steinmetz and his jazz group, and a recording of the Bruckner String Quintet with violist Carolyn Sparey for Linn Records - this following critically acclaimed CDs of the Brahms clarinet quintet (Lesley Schatzberger) and Wenlock Edge (James Gilchrist/Anna Tilbrook) – the latter nominated for the 2008 Gramophone Awards. The quartet will also be recording the complete quartets of composer and geologist John Ramsay for the Divine Art label. So, armed with both an enterprising new manager, Andrew Strange (www.rayfieldartists.com), and record company (www.linnrecords.com), the Fitzwilliam can look look towards the future with hopeful anticipation, as well as recalling its rich history with a degree of pride. Lucy Russell - violin Jonathan Sparey - violin Heather Tuach - cello Alan George - viola LUCY RUSSELL (violin) was born in Germany of Scottish/Norwegian origin, but has lived mainly in London. She was a Junior Exhibitioner at the Royal Academy of Music, going on to take music degrees at the University of York, where she gave the first British performance of the Norwegian composer Alfred Janson's violin concerto Forspil, based on Hardanger violin traditions. While still a student she was invited to play with London Baroque and the English Baroque Soloists, and by the City of London Festival as a solo violinist in their production/recording of Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea. She has been a member of the Fitzwilliam since 1988, becoming leader in 1995; with them she has played all over Europe, North America, and South Africa, as well as making recordings for Linn Records, the BBC, and various foreign radio stations. She has recorded for Channel Classics, Hyperion, DG, and Decca with other ensembles, having been leader of Florilegium, Concerto Caledonia, Classical Opera Company, Retrospect Ensemble, the Finchcocks Quartet, and the New Chamber Opera Band of Players as well as a director of the Scottish Early Music Consort and a solo violinist in the New London Consort. She now leads The King’s Consort, Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, Dunedin Consort and has been invited to guest lead for the City of London Sinfonia. She recently become Associate Leader of Southern Sinfonia, and has also directed the Danish group Ensemble Zimmerman. She has taught and given masterclasses all over the world – in the Czech Republic, the US, South Africa, and Russia. Closer to home, she has worked at the Royal Academy of Music with the Modern Instrument Baroque Orchestra and at Trinity College of Music, Royal Holloway College, Fitzwilliam College Cambridge, Birmingham Conservatoire, York University, the Royal Northern College of Music, St Mary’s Music School Edinburgh, and Pro Corda. She is Professor of Baroque Violin at the Royal College of Music. Lucy loves to divide her time between performing on period instruments and their “modern” counterparts, exploring music from Purcell to the present day. She has studied with three former Fitzwilliam leaders – Christopher Rowland, Daniel Zisman, and Jonathan Sparey – as well as Roger Raphael, Sidney Griller, Emanuel Hurwitz, Simon Fischer, Micaela Comberti, Catherine Mackintosh, Dona Lee and Elizabeth Wilcock. Lucy plays on a violin by Ferdinando Gagliano, made in Naples, Italy, in c1789. Her baroque violin is by Charles Harris of Adderbury. JONATHAN SPAREY (violin) was born in Keswick and won an Associated Board scholarship to the Royal Manchester College of Music, studying with David Martin, Bela Katona, Sascha Lasserson, and Gyorgy Pauk. Together with his sister Carolyn he was invited by Alfred Deller to accompany him on a six-week tour of the USA in 1969, and the two of them have performed Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante over twenty times together; he has also appeared as a soloist in his own right under such conductors as Sir Andrew Davis and Sir Charles Groves. He joined the Fitzwilliam in 1974, taking part in all their foreign tours and recordings, and (like Alan George) received an Honorary Doctorate of Music at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania – conferred by Shostakovich’s son Maxim. He has since played in the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, Southern Sinfonia, The King’s Consort, Classical Opera Band, the Schiller Piano Trio, the San Petronio Players, the Avison Ensemble, Florilegium, and the Finchcocks Collection. Jonathan has held a number of violin teaching posts over the years, including the University of York and Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester. He has a deep knowledge and passion for instruments and bows, and many of his fine collection are on loan to students and young professionals. The violin on which he is himself currently playing was made in the Antonio Stradivari workshop (Cremona, Italy) in 1731. He has lived in Yorkshire since 1977, firstly in York but now in a village in Wensleydale. ALAN GEORGE (viola) comes from Cornwall and studied violin with Colin Sauer at Dartington Hall, viola with Herbert Downes in London, and chamber music with Sidney Griller at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1968 he won an open scholarship to King’s College Cambridge, where he became one of the founder members of the Fitzwilliam, remaining as its only viola player for all 42 years of its existence (so far!). Since 1976 he has been actively involved with the period instrument movement, including eleven years as principal viola with John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. Until 1988 he was lecturer in music and director of the chamber orchestra at the University of York, and is the author of three studies of Shostakovich’s chamber music as well as numerous articles and programme notes; he has also presented talks on BBC radio and at various festivals and concert venues throughout Britain and America. He has been tutor in viola at the Royal Northern College of Music, lecturer with Martin Randall Travel, and visiting lecturer/examiner at many colleges and universities both here and abroad. He is now conductor of the Academy of St. Olave's Chamber Orchestra and principal viola in Southern Sinfonia. In 1981 he was made an Honorary Doctor of Music at Bucknell University, USA, and similarly honoured by the University of York in 2006. He is a trustee of the registered charity Jessie’s Fund – a memorial to his daughter Jessica, who died of a brain tumour in 1994 – which helps sick children through the therapeutic power of music, and which the Fitzwilliam regularly supports in its concerts. His viola was made in Cremona (Italy) c1740/41, possibly by one of the Guarneri family, and his other instruments include one made for him in 1995 by Roger Hansell. HEATHER TUACH (cello) is from the west coast of Newfoundland, Canada. She joined the Fitzwilliam String Quartet in September 2008 after completing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University,New York where she studied with Colin Carr. Heather also studied at Memorial University of Newfoundland, McGill University in Montreal, and at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland. Highlights with the Fitzwilliam String Quartet include a Haydn Quartet marathon at the Castle Hotel in Taunton, concerts at Kings Place and Conway Hall in London, and two voyages on Martin Randall Travel's 'Classical Civilizations' cruise of the Aegean Sea. Heather has recently given solo performances in St. John's and Corner Brook, Newfoundland, at the Ceilidh Place in Ullapool, Scotland, at the Ryedale Festival in North Yorkshire, at the Festival de L'Abbaye du Pin in Poitiers, France and on Martin Randall Travel's 'Bach Journey' in Germany. Upcoming solos include the Shostakovich Concerto No. 2 with the Academy of St. Olave's in York. Heather's cello is a copy of a 1705 Matteo Goffriller made by Roger Hansell in 1993. Of. site - http://www.fitzwilliamquartet.org Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

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