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Solem Quartet

Amy Tress, William Newell (violins), Stephen Upshaw (viola), Stephanie Tress (cello)

Praised for their “immaculate precision and spirit” (The Strad) and “cultured tone” (Arts Desk), the Solem Quartet has established itself as one of the most innovative and adventurous quartets of its generation. A 2020 awardee of the Jerwood Arts Live Work Fund, one of 33 artists selected from more than 1200 applicants, the Solem Quartet takes its place amongst some of the UK’s brightest artistic voices.

Since winning the Royal Over-Seas League Ensemble Competition 2014, the Solem Quartet has built a strong following. They enjoy a busy concert schedule, ranging from international tours in Asia and Europe to performances at venues such as London’s Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Halls, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and Oxford’s Holywell Music Room.

Passionate about collaboration, the Quartet has worked with artists from across genres including filmmaker Jessie Rodger, cellist/singer/composer Ayanna Witter-Johnson, and clarinettist/composer Mark Simpson, with whom they appeared at the Aldeburgh Festival and live on BBC Radio 3. They have also worked closely with many of today’s leading composers, including Anna Meredith, Colin Matthews and Thomas Adès, and in 2021 gave the UK premiere of Jonny Greenwood’s Quartet Suite from “There Will be Blood” at the V&A Museum.

The success of their ground-breaking ‘Solem Lates’ concept, created in 2019 with the aim of presenting classical music in a fresh way and reaching broader audiences, has underlined the Quartet’s position as leading exponents of new music. Between 2020 and 2023, the Quartet’s ‘Beethoven Bartók Now’ series featured six major commissions from composers Aaron Parker, Jasmine Morris, David John Roche, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Edmund Finnis and Bushra El-Turk, alongside the complete Bartók Quartets and complete late Beethoven Quartets, bringing new life and relevance to these iconic masterpieces. ‘Beethoven Bartók Now’ also featured a wealth of digital content and educational activity including ‘Writing for Quartet’ workshops for composers of all backgrounds, generously supported by the Royal Philharmonic Society.

Past ‘Solem Lates’ projects have included bringing music for quartet + electronics to nightclubs around the UK, performing Bartók’s 3rd Quartet from memory, and collaborating with Picturehouse Cinemas to bring Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster” to life through live score performances alongside the iconic film.

‘The Four Quarters’, the Solem Quartet’s debut album, was released to critical acclaim in September 2021. Using Thomas Adès’ The Four Quarters as a framework – and featuring several arrangements by the ensemble – this CD explores composers’ depictions of night and day and all the moments in between; from the melodious dawn chorus of Cassandra Miller’s Warblework, via Bartók’s earthly and touching portrayal of An Evening in the Village, to Kate Bush’s ethereal And Dream Of Sheep. The Quartet recently signed a three-disc deal with Delphian Records and will be releasing their next recording “Painted Light” in Autumn 2023.

The Quartet takes great pride in its educational work. From 2015-17 they held the Junior Fellowship in Chamber Music at the Royal Northern College of Music, and since 2016 they have been Quartet in Residence at the University of Liverpool, where they were invited to perform in the gala opening concert of the Tung Auditorium, flagship concert hall of the University’s new Yoko Ono Lennon Centre. Their immersive concerts and workshops have taken them to mainstream and special needs schools through Live Music Now and they have performed or given seminars at Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Cardiff Universities.

Last updated: 9 May 23

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