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  the smith quartet

the smith quartet
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Violins: Ian Humphries, Rick Koster. Viola: Nic Pendlebury. Cello: Deirdre Cooper.

Now into its third decade, the Smith Quartet remains at the leading edge of the new music world. A champion of the works of the world’s most celebrated composers, commissioning over 200 new pieces with recent works from Michael Nyman, Kevin Volans, Joe Cutler, Donnacha Dennehy, Tunde Jegede, Gabriel Prokofiev and the late Jon Lord. In 2015 the quartet gave the world premiere of Graham Fitkin’s new work Distil at the Cheltenham Festival as part of a collaborative project with percussionist Joby Burgess. The work went on to receive the RPS chamber music prize for best chamber composition. The group has not only collaborated with eminent classical musicians such as Burgess, pianist John Tilbury and guitarist David Tanenbaum but also with a diverse array of artists from other disciplines including rock group Pulp, Malian singer Rokia Traoré, jazz musicians John Taylor and Django Bates and dance companies Shobana Jeyasingh, Siobhan Davies and Ultima Vez.

In 2005 they were featured in the BBC’s The Culture Show in discussion with Steve Reich and in the BAFTA and Emmy award-winning BBC documentary film Holocaust – A Music Memorial Concert from Auschwitz performing Reich’s Different Trains. Filmed on location, the film marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. 

The quartet’s touring schedule has taken them around the world appearing in many prestigious festivals including: Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Vancouver Festival, Düsseldorf Festival, Cheltenham and Edinburgh Festivals, La Biennale di Venezia, Jauna Muzika Vilnius, Vale of Glamorgan, the Flanders Festival Brussels and New York’s Bang on a Can Festival. They are also Associate Artists at St John’s Smith Square London.

The quartet regularly records for the BBC and enjoy an ongoing relationship with Signum Classics. Their fourth album for the label, Dance, Is a collection of newly commissioned dances by composers from the world of classical, jazz, rock and world music, the album received accolades in both the national and international press. Previous albums on the Signum label include Steve Reich’s Different Trains and the complete Philip Glass quartets which led Classic FM magazine to ask “How long before the Kronos is labelled the ‘American Smith Quartet’? …they are ahead of the curve at generating new repertoire and taking the experimental back catalogue seriously”. Other albums of note include Django BatesYou live and learn… Apparently and the hugely popular Diamond Music by Karl Jenkins on Sony. 2016 will see the release of Michael Nyman’s quartets numbers 4 and 5 on MN records and the final disc with acclaimed pianist John Tilbury of all the Morton Feldman works for piano and strings, performed and recorded live at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

In 2015 the quartet, as part of the Kings Place “minimalism unwrapped” series, gave the world premiere of North Shore by Wayne Siegel as part of their “European Mavericks” concert. They also collaborated with David Lang (bang on a can, New York) in a concert of American minimalist music featuring Arke Luggage, written by Lang for the quartet and soprano Else Torpe. In the Autumn they concluded their Kings Place cycle with a performance of Michael Nyman’s complete quartets and premiered Material Men, a new dance work by Shobona Jeyasingh wih music by Elena Katz-Chernin, at the QEH receiving rave reviews.

  Portable Document Format
Christopher Fox HCMF 2006 Review