CENTURIES OF CLASSICAL MUSIC
CENTURIES OF CLASSICAL MUSIC
previewed by Norman Warwick
At The Stoller Hall (right) in Manchester UK The Marmen Quartet will tonight deliver a recital that covers centuries and styles of classical music, as detailed below.
THE MARMEN QUARTET
20th February 2023 at 7.30 pm
|Rising UK talents the Marmen Quartet perform a concert that spans centuries and styles. From the classical-era music of Haydn to Cage’s contemporary Four, by way of the romance and drama of Beethoven and Webern, this is a programme that shows off the full range of the string quartet. Full Programme|
HAYDN String Quartet in C Major, Op.50
WEBERN Five Movements for String Quartet, Op.5
CAGE Four, for String Quartet
BEETHOVEN String Quartet No.14 in C♯ Minor, Op.131 Ahead of the concert Professor David Horne will give a talk on Webern’s abstract Five Movements and avant-garde American composer Cages’ Four. Free to all ticket holders .
With a growing reputation for the courage, vitality and intensity of its performances the Marmen Quartet (left) is fast establishing itself as one of the most impressive and engaging new talents in the chamber music arena. 2019 marked a year of significant achievement for the Quartet, with First Prizes at both the Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition and Banff International String Quartet Competition, where they were also awarded the Haydn and Canadian Commission prizes. Other accolades include first prize at the Royal Overseas League Competition (2018) and awards at the International Joseph Joachim Chamber Music Competition…The Marmen Quartet has performed at venues including Wigmore Hall, Berlin Philharmonie, Boulez Saal, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Stockholm Konserthuset, Milton Court (Barbican), Palladium Malmö and Muziekgebouw Eindhoven. The Quartet performs regularly across Sweden and 2020 saw its first complete cycle of Beethoven String Quartets for Musik I Syd. Festival engagements have taken the Quartet to the Amsterdam String Quartet Biennale, BBC Proms, Hitzacker, Lockenhaus, Mecklenburg Vorpommern, and the Barcelona and Gulbenkian Foundation String Quartet Biennale Festivals.
Sinéad O’Halloran (right) is quickly establishing herself as one of Ireland’s most exciting young musicians. Co-founder and Artistic Director of the Ortús Chamber Music Festival, established in Cork in 2016, Sinéad is passionate about bringing together Irish and international musicians for concerts, education work and audience development in the wider community.
As cellist of the award-winning Marmen Quartet (1st Prize Winners of Banff & Bordeaux International String Quartet Competitions), Sinéad has performed at the Berlin Philharmonie, Boulez-Saal, BBC Proms, Lucerne Festival & Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival. Upcoming highlights include performances at Wigmore Hall, Heidelberg Festival, Amsterdam String Quartet Biennale, as well as tours across Europe, Canada, the UK, the US & Israel. Another highlight of the 22/23 season will see the Marmen Quartet taking part in the Australian National Academy of Music’s Quartetthaus project, hosted in London by the Royal Albert Hall. A showcase of both musical and architectural talent, the Quartetthaus programme features works by both Australian and British artists including a new piece by Hannah Kendall commissioned for the Marmen Quartet by ANAM.
Sinéad also enjoys a varied career as soloist, chamber musician, orchestral player and teacher. In October 2020 she made her Wigmore Hall debut at the invitation of cellist Steven Isserlis, performing alongside Anthony Marwood, Timothy Ridout and Mishka Rushdie Momen. In March 2023, Sinéad will make her solo debut with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, performing the world premiere of Shaun Davey’s Cello Concerto Refuge on St. Patrick’s Day 2023 in the National Concert Hall, Dublin.
As a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) for seven years, she toured Europe, South America, the United Arab Emirates and the Caribbean. As Principal Cellist of EUYO she led the section at numerous high profile events, including the BBC Proms and The Armistice Day 100 Years Anniversary Ceremony, performing at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe during a ceremony marking the centenary of the end of World War I in front of 84 Heads of State and world leaders, and a live television audience of millions. At the invitation of Maestro Iván Fischer, she is a regular guest with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, touring extensively and performing in some of the world’s finest concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Philharmonie de Paris, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Het Concertgebouw. She has also performed with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Spira Mirabilis and the iPalpiti Ensemble of International Laureates, working with some of the world’s most renowned conductors, including Bernard Haitink, Gianandrea Noseda, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jörg Widmann and Vasily Petrenko.
Sinéad began her musical studies at the CIT Cork School of Music under the guidance of Joan Scannell and Christopher Marwood. At the age of 18 she was offered an Artistic Merit Scholarship to pursue a postgraduate Performer’s Diploma at SMU Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas in the classes of renowned cellists Andres Diaz and Christopher Adkins. She received a First Class Hons BMus degree as a student of Gregor Horsch (Principal cellist of Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) at the Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf and completed a one year Erasmus+ Masters exchange at the Royal Northern College of Music in the class of Hannah Roberts, where was awarded the RNCM Gold Medal 2021, the most prestigious award of the school. She is currently a on the Chamber Music Faculty of the Royal College of Music, London.
Sinéad gratefully acknowledges support from the Arts Council of Ireland, Music Network, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Cork City Arts Office and Deutschlandstipendium. She currently plays on a Benjamin Banks cello c. 1780.
New Zealand born Bryony Gibson-Cornish (left) is a keen biker, yogi and violist. Various accolades include being awarded the Tagore Gold Medal upon graduating from the Royal College of Music and studying at The Juilliard School as a Fulbright Scholar. She is the violist of the Marmen Quartet, winners of the Banff and Bordeaux International String Quartet Competitions. They regularly tour throughout Europe and are the Peak Fellowship Ensemble in Residence at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Bryony also loves spending time with the London Mozart Players, where she is No. 2 Viola. Bryony has been teaching chamber music and assisting her former professor, Andriy Viytovych, at the Royal College of Music since 2017 and is delighted to be joining the distinguished String Faculty from 2022 as a Viola Professor. She is grateful for numerous grants and scholarships, including the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the Pettman Foundation and the Kathleen Trust. She plays a 1932 Vincenzo Sannino Viola, Rome, Italy, and is grateful to the Loan Fund for Musical Instruments for their support.
As a teenager, Bryony pursued studies both in viola and opera, completing studies at the Pettman National Junior Academy of Music and the University of Canterbury with Stephen Larsen and Dame Malvina Major. She was accepted into the Master of Music degree programme at The Juilliard School at 19 years old as a Fulbright Scholar, where she studied viola with Heidi Castleman and Misha Amory. During this time, she also studied historical performance and composition alongside viola. Many scholarships made her studies possible, a full list can be found here. In 2015, Bryony moved to London to pursue an Artist Diploma in viola at the Royal College of Music, studying with Andriy Viytovych. Upon graduating, she was awarded the Tagore Gold Medal, awarded by HRH the Prince of Wales to graduating students judged to have made outstanding contributions musically and in other important ways to the life of the Royal College of Music. Bryony stayed on at the RCM, completing another Artist Diploma in chamber music with the Marmen Quartet, as well as assisting her former professor, Andriy Viytovych, with teaching his viola class and teaching chamber music from 2017 onwards. She is thrilled to be joining the distinguished international String Faculty as a Viola Professor from 2022 at the Royal College of Music.
Braun had been studying in Basel with Rainer Schmidt, the legendary second violinist of the Hagen Quartet. “Rainer really looked after his students very, very well during the pandemic,” he says. “I was busy analysing Schubert songs, listening to recordings of Mahler symphonies, things like that, and practising the violin a little bit. And also fermenting food at home. I got into that. Things kind of aligned in an organic way. I bumped into some of my new colleagues in a project in the UK and things kind of worked out.”
Johannes Marmen enjoys a varied, international career as a chamber musician and orchestral leader. He is the first violinist of the award winning Marmen Quartet, co-leader of the O/Modernt chamber orchestra, as well regularly guest leading ensembles such as the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Nordica and Sinfonia Cymru.
Having studied with Radu Blidar and Carolin Widmann at the Royal College of Music, supported by the prestigious ABRSM scholarship, Johannes went on to be mentored by the late Peter Cropper of the Lindsay Quartet through Music In The Round’s inaugural “Bridge” scheme.
As a composer and interpreter of contemporary music, Johannes is regularly commissioned and has recently had works and arrangements performed in the Wigmore Hall, Kings Place and Berlin Konzerthaus as well as being featured on releases by Signum Records and Orchid Classics. His work ‘Waiting’ was featured on the album Sonic Philosophy, recorded by Hugo Ticciati and Henrik Måwe. Johannes was a founding member and leader of London based contemporary group Explore Ensemble.
As a touring chamber musician, Johannes regularly performs in the venues across Europe and collaborates with Hugo Ticciati, Priya Mitchell, Gareth Lubbe as well as fellow string quartet members from the Doric, Piatti, Ebene and Sacconi quartets.
Johannes’ main occupation, the Marmen Quartet, is one of Britain’s and Europe’s most promising emerging groups, having won the Royal Overseas League Competition in 2018 as well as prizes from the Concordia Foundation, the Royal Philharmonic Society and Music In The Round. They perform regularly in the main London venues, tour the U.K. extensively and play regularly at festivals abroad.
Johannes plays on a 1796 Giuseppe Gagliano.
There’s a tendency for music lovers to focus special attention on quartets where the membership remains the same over a long period of time. Although the Marmen Quartet won’t turn 10 until next year, the leader, Johannes Marmen, who is Swedish, is actually the only surviving member of the original line-up.
So what’s it like to join an ensemble where the other members have been working together for years? For O’Halloran “it’s a real privilege to join a group that’s already so well established and that has figured out how to play quartets, but are still really open to fresh ideas and perspectives. I have learned so much in the past year. Literally every day I’m learning. We’re quite lucky in that I don’t feel like I am joining a quartet that isn’t open to developing more. It’s a great thing to be able to do.”
“Yes,” says Gibson-Cornish. “Without a doubt. It was clear pretty much from the first rehearsal that both of these guys were the right fit. Of course, we did give it a few weeks. But in terms of appointing new members that would generally be considered quite fast. As my husband likes to say, ‘when you know, you know’.”
Marmen elaborates.”It was a very important thing for all of us that we just really enjoyed spending time together. And that we respect whenever somebody might want not to do something that there is always this . . . ” As his voice trails off Gibson-Cornish interjects with what’s so clearly a slogan that you can hear the capital letters, “Foundation of Love, Trust and Respect.” Everyone laughs.
“We’re designing a crest for the quartet,” Marmen says, “so we’re finding out the Latin words so it all seems a little bit less obvious. But it’s true. We do love and trust and respect each other a lot.” This is not just good for “the everyday things” but also for “when you are in rehearsal and it becomes really personal and intense because you’re trying to get to the bottom of the music. In all those situations everyone can feel safe and good.”
String quartets vary in the way they structure their work. The Marmens say they don’t really have any fixed rules. “The only parameters we have in rehearsals,” says Marmen, “is we try and discuss exactly what we will rehearse in advance. We always start the rehearsal with playing a Bach chorale. And we nearly always rehearse for two hours, twice a day, or sometimes one-and-a-half, plus two.” But, adds Gibson-Cornish, “we nearly always go over time.”
Quartet-playing is a difficult career, high in status but limited in remuneration, as uncertain as any freelance activity, and with a high administrative burden when there’s lots of touring involved. And on tour you’re away from family, partners and loved ones. On the other hand the repertoire is nonpareil.
For Gibson-Cornish the biggest challenge is that “when we are trying to become the very best musicians we can, we’re up against ourselves”.
And Braun concurs. “It really feels like a musical home. It doesn’t feel we’re joining a fixed thing.”
Marmen explains the process from his perspective. “When we were searching for new members the idea was never to find somebody who fitted in or slotted in very well. But to find people who are just as interested and inspired by the process of rehearsing and understanding – looking into the score and discussing all the really deep aspects of playing together, both psychologically, technically, every aspect, human and technical that there is.
“That has always been our ideal in a way. In that sense you could say that the quartet never changes. It’s like a river or something. There is some famous saying, maybe Confucius, that a person is like a river and the water that flows through is always different but the river is still the same. The spot that we are at now is very beautiful, very nice.”
Gibson-Cornish adds, “What’s so wonderful about inviting new members to join is that we can find new perspectives on the same music that we may have been playing for a number of years. What I love is just that opportunity to see something that I’ve been staring at for all this time and see it differently because of new perspectives and influences. Both Laia and Sinéad have brought such interesting ideas, perspectives, approaches to the quartet that they’ve really allowed us to grow even more and develop in such a wonderful and exciting way.”
Marmen casts the whole notion of membership in terms of a relationship. “I think a really good relationship with someone is when you can feel like you can be your best self in that relationship. When changing members in a quartet you have an opportunity to explore and to be able to improve yourself as an old member, and to invite people who can make your self even better. It’s a pretty fantastic influx.”
They make it sound like an application process that was largely without box-ticking. Was it primarily intuitive then?
In the US, 2022 saw the Quartet takes up its position as Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence at the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University in partnership with the Banff International String Quartet Competition; a relationship that sees the Quartet work closely with the University’s students as well as giving performances and developing new projects across its residencies. The Quartet returns three times to the University in the 22/23 season, with other North American highlights including performances in Calgary and Vancouver.
photoi rah Another highlight of the 22/23 season will see the Marmen Quartet taking part in the Australian National Academy of Music’s Quartetthaus project, hosted in London by the Royal Albert Hall. A showcase of both musical and architectural talent, the Quartetthaus programme features works by both Australian and British artists including a new piece by Hannah Kendall commissioned for the Marmen Quartet by ANAM. Other UK highlights include a return to Wigmore Hall, as well as performances in Cambridge, Manchester, Belfast and Sheffield. In Europe, recital engagements take the Quartet to Bremen, Munich and Bern as well seeing them take part in the Heidelberg String Quartet Festival and undertaking an extensive tour of Ireland for the National String Quartet Foundation. Elsewhere, the Quartet makes its debut in Israel with a tour including performances in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Formed in 2013 at the Royal College of Music, the Marmen Quartet were holders of the Guildhall School of Music String Quartet Fellowship (2018-2020) and studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Hannover with Oliver Wille as well as in London with Simon Rowland-Jones and John Myerscough (Doric Quartet). They were mentored by the late Peter Cropper and have received support from the Musicians Company/Concordia Foundation, the Hattori Foundation, Help Musicians and the Royal Philharmonic Society (Albert and Eugenie Frost Prize).
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We were surprised in the Lanzarote office sidetracks & detours office as we realised that, whenever we attend a live classical recital or a jazz concert here on the island we see many of the same people attending both, despite what feels to us to be a quite wide void between the two genres of classical and jazz.
Still, at least when circumstances force us to combine classical and jazz in the same publication, as we are about to do now, we can at least offer some justification for doing so.
|Fri 17 March | Progress Theatre, Reading (details below) | 7:30pm ||
£18.00 (£16.00 concessions, £9 under 16) plus maximum 5% booking fee
Zoë Gilby vocals | Mark Williams guitar
Andy Champion double bass| John Bradford drums Zoë Gilby – Parliamentary Jazz Awards Jazz Vocalist of the Year 2019– is making a stunning impression on the music scene at home and abroad.
She studied music for two years at Newcastle College and later developed her sound at Fionna Duncan’s Vocal Jazz Workshop in Glasgow. She now tours internationally and throughout the UK, performing her compelling original compositions (written with double bassist husband Andy Champion). They make a powerful collection of songs with a strong narrative, musical sophistication and a dramatic edge. Her performances offer an engaging repertoire of story-telling and atmosphere and typically include an adventurous blend of contemporary composers from Kate Bush to Thelonious Monk as well as sensitive treatment of jazz standards.
Zoë’s first album “Now That I am Real”, released in 2007 was the launch pad for her sparkling career. Several albums since then include:
Pannonica, performing lyrical interpretations of the quirky, complex compositions from the legendary pianist and composer, Thelonious Monk and including the story behind Monks’ composition ‘Pannonica’ written in honour of the Jazz Baroness, patron of bebop, Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter.
Aurora, inspired by the instrumental compositions of award winning, Grammy nominated U.S. trumpeter Tom Harrell. Zoë says “I’ve loved illustrating Tom’s music further with my own lyrics, absorbing his intricate ideas, his serene delivery and portraying it sensitively with my own, awesome musicians, who help bring my words and these compositions to life.”
Read (and listen to) more here
Many readers of my Sidetracks And Detours daily blog will already be aware of the name of Steve Bewick, a presenter of a jazz mix-cloud weekly programme. He is also an occasional contributor to these pages as he and I used to co-present a weekly hour called áll across the arts´ on Crescent Radio in the UK. We have also interviewed Steve´s his wife Marlene, for this Lanzarote Information platform-
We were therefore really pleased to read a current news piece about the radio presenter in a weekly publication in all across the arts, edited by Steve Cooke (right) for The Manchester Evening News Media Group in The Rochdale Observer, one of the group´s several local papers.
Mr. Cooke wrote, ´whether you are a jazz lover or don´t actually think jazz is for you, I thoroughly recommend a listen to Hot Biscuits, with local Rochdale-based broadcaster. Steve Bewick (left). Whether you are in the jazz camp or the classical camp you are bound to find music to lift your spirits.
Steve Bewick has a long history of broadcasting in the .local radio environment with Hospital Radio, Crescent Radio and for the last ten years or so with FC Radio. He labels his current broadcasts as ´a jazz programme spanning the latest great and famous in all things jazz´.
As this is an internet broadcast Steve´s shows go out around the world, often prompting new music to be sent from all sorts of places to his Rochdale studio.
He has, of course, also established good contacts on the Manchester jazz scene and receives recordings from local and visiting bands. This enables him to include live recordings twice a month.
Such broadcasts were spawned for the formation of non-league football club, F.C, Manchester, which emerged from protests to the take-over of Manchester United by the Glazer family, who are now seeking new investments or buyers. Fans of the new non-league team were keen on a media channel that gave radio and tv coverage of its matches.
Out of that came a series of specialist programmes, like Steve Bewick´s on jazz, by the fans for the fans.
This week´s Hot Biscuits presentation includes a live session from Phil Shotton Quartet featuring Phil’s outstanding tenor saxophone playing. Also included are tracks from Paul Booth – Summer of 44, Anita Wardell, Amy Bird Music, and closing with Arthur Lea‘s Bootleg Trio. If this looks interesting share with your friends and join Steve Bewick 24/07 at
Steve Bewick’s Shows | Mixcloud
The primary sources for this article were a newsletter from The Stoller Hall, the official web site of The Marmen Quarter and a peice written by Steve Cooke and published in The Rochdale Observer.
Images employed have been taken from on line sites only where categorised as ´images free to use´.
In our occasional re-postings Sidetracks And Detours are confident that we are not only sharing with our readers excellent articles written by experts but are also pointing to informed and informative sites readers will re-visit time and again. Of course, we feel sure our readers will also return to our daily not-for-profit blog knowing that we seek to provide core original material whilst sometimes spotlighting the best pieces from elsewhere, as we engage with genres and practitioners along all the sidetracks & detours we take.
Recommended titles of books about Music and Musicians in our weekly feature, You´re Gonna Need A Bigger Bookshelf can be found on line at Powell´s City Of Books at
Today´s article was collated by Norman Warwick, a weekly columnist with Lanzarote Information and owner and editor of this daily blog at Sidetracks And Detours.
Norman has also been a long serving broadcaster, co-presenting the weekly all across the arts programme on Crescent Community Radio for many years with Steve, and his own show on Sherwood Community Radio. He has been a regular guest on BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio 4.
As a published author and poet he was a founder member of Lendanear Music, with Colin Lever and Just Poets with Pam McKee, Touchstones Creative Writing Group (where he was creative writing facilitator for a number of years) with Val Chadwick and all across the arts with Robin Parker.
From Monday to Friday, you will find a daily post here at Sidetracks And Detours and, should you be looking for good reading, over the weekend you can visit our massive but easy to navigate archives of over 500 articles.
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