Dante Quartet

 Playing of spellbinding atmosphere  The Guardian

The Programme:

Frank Bridge – Three Idylls H.67 (1906)

Shostakovich – String Quartet № 4, Op.83

Beethoven – Quartet Op.59 № 1

The Dante Quartet is frequently heard on BBC Radio 3, and the Quartet has appeared many times at London’s Wigmore Hall and Kings Place, and at some of the UK’s foremost festivals and music societies. Abroad, the Quartet has played in France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, the Czech Republic and Poland, and has twice toured Japan.
The Dante Quartet has made a series of acclaimed recordings for Hyperion, winning the BBC Music Magazine Award and the French Diapaison d’Or. The Quartet has also recorded for Signum and Toccata Records and their recording of the string quartets by Herbert Howells was released on the Naxos label in 2019. The Dante Quartet has recently recorded the eight string quartets and two quintets of C V Stanford on the SOMM label.

The Quartet has performed cycles of the complete Beethoven and Shostakovich string quartets in single marathon weekends. They have collaborated with playwright Clare Norburn (author of concert-drama Breaking the Rules) on a dramatized version of Beethoven’s quartet cycle, featuring actor David Timson as the composer. This innovative format has proved popular and has been performed many times, and has also featured on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Zoë Beyers (Violin)

The leader of the Dante Quartet, South African born Zoë has established a reputation as one of the finest and most versatile violinists based in the UK, and performs worldwide as soloist, chamber musician, director and orchestral leader.

Highlights have included appearances at the Wigmore Hall with I Musicanti, the St Magnus Festival in Orkney and the Edinburgh International Festival with Hebrides Ensemble, solo appearances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, English Symphony Orchestra, Norwich Philharmonic and Warwick Symphony Orchestra.

As a chamber musician Zoë appears with the Dante Quartet, Hebrides Ensemble, Nash Ensemble and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

In September 2020, Zoë took up the position of concertmaster of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

Zoë has appeared as guest leader of the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras, the CBSO, the Philharmonia, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Orquesta Nacional de España at the invitation of Maestro Juanjo Mena.

Since 2017, Zoë has been the concertmaster of the English Symphony Orchestra, collaborating closely with them as director and soloist.

Zoë has a passionate interest in education, teaching at the Birmingham Conservatoire and coaching violinists and ensembles at the start of their careers. She is proud to be involved in ARCO, a distance learning collaboration between Birmingham Conservatoire and students in deprived areas.

Ian Watson (Violin)

Ian joined the Dante Quartet in 2019. Originally from South Africa, he obtained an MMus at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2008, enabled by an RSM International Scholarship.

After graduating, Ian formed a duo with celebrated guitarist-composer, Marek Pasieczny. This collaboration led to invitations to Italy, Japan, South Africa and Poland, where they subsequently became Laureate of the Nowa Tradycja Competition in Warsaw, 2008.

Ian joined the Royal Northern Sinfonia in 2010, under the direction of Thomas Zehetmair. Two years later he was appointed Principal 1st Violin of the Hallé Orchestra, under Sir Mark Elder. Highlights from this period include Parsifal at the BBC Proms (2013) and a number of tours within Europe, China and South America.

Since leaving the Hallé in 2015, Ian has enjoyed a varied career as a guest Principal 2nd Violin and Co-Leader with some of Britain’s major orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, BBC SSO, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, London Mozart Players, and the Hague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ian plays in the first violin section of the Aurora Orchestra, which has earned international recognition for performing symphonic works entirely from memory.

Carol Ella (Viola)

Carol is from Wick, in the far north of Scotland, and won a Foundation Scholarship to study with Simon Rowland-Jones at London’s Royal College of Music.

Carol has always had a passion for orchestral playing, having held positions with both the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra. She is a regular member of the John Wilson Orchestra and Sinfonia of London, and has played as Guest Principal with many UK orchestras, such as Aurora, Britten Sinfonia, City of London Sinfonia, BBC Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

As a tutor, Carol has taken viola classes at the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

In 2011, Carol was selected by Oliver Knussen to play for his Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble in chamber performances across Europe with a subsequent recording of Britten’s Rape of Lucretia. She was honoured to play at his memorial concert Celebrating Olly at the Royal Academy of Music in 2018 and has since played Principal Viola with the Knussen Chamber Orchestra.

Memorisation, choreography, and the occasional attempt at singing, are just a few of the exciting and challenging aspects of performing that Carol has grown to relish with such diverse and explosive groups as Manchester Collective and Scottish Ensemble.

Carol’s viola is by Nigel Harris, made for her in 2001, and generously supported by the Virtuosi Society of Scotland.

Richard Jenkinson (Cello)

Richard joined Dante in 2012. His musical education began at the age of five when he started to play the ‘cello and was awarded a scholarship by Derbyshire County Council to study with Florence Hooton and William Pleeth.

He won a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, studying ‘cello with Raphael Wallfisch and William Pleeth and conducting with Alan Hazeldine.

He graduated with Distinction in 1994 and was awarded the Guildhall’s coveted Gold Medal for a performance of the Dvořák ‘Cello Concerto in the Barbican.

In 1995 he was awarded a top prize at the Vittorio Gui Chamber Music Competition in Italy and was invited to be part of the Countess of Munster recital scheme. This has led to a very productive partnership with the pianist Benjamin Frith, including recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall and South Bank Centre and several recordings. He has also appeared twice at the Church Stretton Arts Festival with the Frith Piano Quartet.

Richard has given many concerto performances and has performed the Elgar Concerto in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and the Dvořák Concerto in the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum in Prague. From 1998-2016 he was principal ‘cello with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Richard has played concerts with the Allegri and Coull String Quartets and has performed with the Fibonacci Sequence, Michael Collins and the Wigmore Soloists at the Wigmore Hall in 2021.

Richard is Musical Director of the British Police Symphony Orchestra (BPSO) and the Orchestra of St John, Bromsgrove. In May 2019 Richard conducted the BPSO at the Royal Albert Hall, London in a Gala Concert celebrating the orchestra’s 30th anniversary involving fanfare trumpets, troupes of bagpipers and massed choirs from around the United Kingdom which involved over 600 performers.

During 2022 performances included Beethoven Triple, Dvořák, Lalo and Stanford Cello Concertos, cycles of the late Beethoven Quartets and concerts with the Wigmore Soloists. Future performances with the BPSO include Coventry Cathedral, Lichfield, Stafford and Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

The Dante Quartet has a Website

Photo credits: Gail Secker

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