With the past year causing unprecedented global change, the Villiers Quartet enter 2021 with new members to begin the next chapter of the VQ’s musical journey. Violinist Katie Stillman and cellist Leo Melvin joined during the pandemic, and the Villiers Quartet initiated new digitally based projects to reflect the ever-changing landscape of chamber music in the UK. These projects include VQ Discovery: Beethoven Edition,
an online course on Beethoven’s quartets for students and amateur musicians in lockdown; VQ Create
, an online mentorship programme for secondary pupils to compose new music for string quartet; and From Home: VQ Commissions
, the VQ’s project to commission new works from 6 diverse British composers celebrating the VQ’s 10th Anniversary season after a life-changing year.
Named after Villiers Street in London, the Villiers Quartet encompasses the grand and iconic spirit of the extraordinary music tradition in Britain and has been praised for “exquisite ensemble playing” (Seen & Heard International)
, and their absolute “commitment and virtuosity” (The Sunday Times)
. The Villiers Quartet is the Quartet-in-Residence at the Jacqueline Du Pré Music Building at Oxford University.
Hailed as “Champions of British Music” (The Observer), the Villiers Quartet has become one of the most recognised quartets in the UK for the performance of British music. The VQ has released acclaimed recordings of works by Elgar, Delius, Peter Racine Fricker, William Sterndale Bennett, David Matthews, and most recently music by William Alwyn and Kuljit Bhamra, MBE. In 2020 they gave the world premiere of the complete 1888 Delius string quartet, featuring movements in their original versions uncovered by Professor Daniel Grimley from Oxford University.
The Villiers Quartet has been broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from the Leamington International Quartet Series, and on NPO Radio 4 live from the Concertgebouw. The VQ has been featured on BBC’s In Tune and also BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show with pianist Alexis Ffrench and double bassist Leon Bosch. The VQ was the featured quartet on the score to the BBC film Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
The Villiers Quartet has presented masterclasses in the UK and abroad at Oxford University, Duke University, Dartmouth College, University of Nottingham, Syracuse University, Cal State LA, Jacksonville University, and Indiana University South Bend. ambassadors for British chamber music, the VQ has given premieres and performances of music by British composers including Anthony Payne, Alexander Goehr, Martyn Harry, David Matthews, and Elizabeth Kelly.
The broad curiosity of the Villiers Quartet and its passion for teaching and performing have made the VQ a valuable resource for students and audiences alike. Inspiration comes from the heart of the Villiers Quartet’s philosophy: to believe in the art of string quartet.