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Important announcement from the Solem Quartet

News from the Solem Quartet: “drumroll please … we are really happy to announce that Stephen Upshaw has joined the quartet as our new violist!”

Some of you have already met and heard Stephen, but for those that haven’t – you can find out lots more about him here. Stephen is a brilliant musician who we have loved working with in the last couple of months, and who performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician around the UK, Europe and North America. Alongside a love of chamber music, Stephen has a particular interest in contemporary music, being a member of Riot Ensemble (whose recent disc “Speak Be Silent” was selected as one of The New Yorker Magazine’s best of 2019). Keep your eyes peeled for some sparkly new photos of the four of us coming soon!

With welcoming Stephen, we of course have to say goodbye to Ali (our beloved violist of 9 years!) who is now focusing on a career newly balanced towards performing, arranging and teaching in Manchester. As a founding member of the quartet we are all indebted to Ali and will miss him – but we look forward to seeing his future career flourish!

We have given Stephen no time to catch his breath; coming up in March we will be stretching our quartet wings to the full, playing repertoire from Haydn to Bartók to Cassandra Miller, and taking music to concert halls, music societies, hospitals and schools.

Sunday 15th March will see us make our Conway Hall debut performing Brahms Quartet no. 2, Beethoven op. 127, and a specially commissioned work by Camden Reeves (below).
Camden’s work entitled Blue Windows – his 5th Quartet – responds to Marc Chagall’s American Windows (below) installed in Chicago’s Art Institute, and explores the colour palette of the string quartet through overlapping harmonic blocks in a fascinating way. We are very grateful to The Ida Carroll Trust in supporting this commission, and can’t wait to premiere it at Conway Hall on the 15th at 6.30pm! Click here for tickets.

Just before that, we’re off to Cambridge for two events we’re very excited about.
On Thursday 12th March we’ll be performing a wonderful programme of music inspired by birdsong at Kettle’s Yard. The music features contemporary music we love including pieces by John Luther Adams (The Wind In High Places, Dream of the Canyon Wren), Cassandra Miller (Warblework), Kaare Dyvik Husby (Quartet No. 2) – a piece that was commissioned for us and premiered at Aberystwyth MusicFest 2017 – as well as  the hauntingly beautiful slow movement from Bartók’s 4th Quartet. We’re really looking forward to playing this innovative programme that has been crafted with us by Kettle’s Yard New Music Curator, Tom McKinney.

John Luther Adams, recipient of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music, writes music inspired nature, especially the landscapes of Alaska

The day before that, we’ll be bringing Solem lates to Cambridge Arts Picturehouse where we’ll be reviving The Lobster Live at 6.30pm on Wednesday 11th March. If you missed the London shows from last year, this is your final chance! To find out more about the project and our collaboration with Picturehouse Cinemas, do have a look at this video.
Rehearsing the Kettle’s Yard contemporary music programme (interspersed with Bartók) has reminded us of our first Solem lates show in May last year. We’ve recently heard that Larry Goves’ quartet Two Way Mirror, which was written for those concerts, has been included on a Latvian radio playlist. We’re chuffed that Larry’s quartet has gone international and we’re looking forward to the millions of royalties that will be coming our way…if for some reason you’re not next to a Latvian radio, you can watch us play Two Way Mirror below. And you can enjoy plenty more videos on our YouTube channel.

Solem Quartet: Larry Goves ” Two Way Mirror”

In February, we were pleased to be invited back to King’s College School for two days working with student chamber groups and playing in music classes. Coming up, we will be heading to Eton College to coach talented chamber musicians, and performing workshops to local primary school children at Hay-on-Wye. Whether performing at universities, coaching students, or taking workshops to schools, educational work has always been a part of our life as a quartet and as musicians individually. You can find out more about our educational work here and if you would consider supporting us so we can take it further afield – or would consider supporting any other of our ventures – please do get in touch.

Finally, a rundown of where you can catch us in the month ahead:
3rd March Lionsgate Music The Royal Marsden, Chelsea
4th March MusicFest Aberystwyth fundraiser Holy Trinity Church Aberystwyth
5th March Hay Music St Mary’s Church, Hay-on-Wye
11th March The Lobster Live Cambridge Arts Picturehouse
12th March Birdsong at Kettle’s Yard Cambridge
13th March (with Anthony Friend, clarinet) Claygate Arts Festival, Christian Science Church
15th March Conway Hall London
27th March Llanidloes Music and Arts Club Trinity Church, Llanidloes
3rd April Lamberhurst Music Festival St Mary’s Church, Lamberhurst
4th April Manchester Chamber Choir Holy Name Church, Manchester
So, that’s all folks. Have a look at the performances page on our website for further details of the above, and concerts later in the spring. Hope to see you soon!
Amy, Will, Stephen & Steph

The above image of Stephen is by Malcolm Crowthers

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