The Villiers Quartet at Oxford

The Villiers Quartet have been our String Quartet in Residence at the Faculty of Music, University of Oxford since November 2015 thanks to the generous support of the Radcliffe Trust.

In the three years of their residency they have developed strong links with the Faculty and its students.

Professor Martyn Harry said: “We have really benefited from workshops in which they have worked very closely with our student composers on new quartets, and it is the very enthusiastic and thorough way in which they do that, and the creativity with which they play these pieces is really very important to the development of our students.”

They have also engaged with current research working with Professor Daniel Grimley to record the Delius String Quartet. This year they spent a day workshopping the original version of the slow movement with a student string quartet.

Professor Grimley said: “To have them come and work with a group of students and really take it to bits and share their insights, their frustrations with the way that Delius writes and also some of their quick fit solutions – that’s really brilliant and I think the students responded really well.”

In the final year of their residency they performed two sold out shows at the Holywell Music Room. Their November concert opened with Haydn’s famous Fifths quartet, so called because a motif based around falling fifths dominates the opening movement, and continues with Fricker’s taut and emotionally intense second quartet. The finale featured Dvorak’s last quartet – the buoyant, tuneful op. 105 in A flat – composed after he returned to his native Bohemia from America.

Next year we are inviting the Quartet back to give a composition workshop and chamber music coaching to our students.

Finalist Amy Chang writes:

“We met with the Villiers Quartet at the Faculty of Music for a workshop a couple of weeks before our performance in the Holywell Music Room. The musicians were professional and incredibly friendly, giving us different insights into the music and offering various interpretations. As the pianist of the quartet, I enjoyed responding to the changes my friends made in their playing. Our viola player was unfortunately unavailable for the workshop, but Carmen kindly filled-in for the role, giving us a taste of being part of a professional string quartet. James, Tamaki and Nick offered my friends expert individual guidance on their respective instruments, advising on technique tailored to the music that we were playing. It was great to share our passion for music as we discussed and worked on the quartets. We all thoroughly enjoyed being coached by the Villiers and left the workshop with their encouragements for our upcoming performance.”

To find out more about the residency watch the video below:

To find out more about the Villiers Quartet visit their website here.

If you are interested in supporting chamber music at the Faculty of Music, please contact Professor Michael Burden by email at michael.burden@new.ox.ac.uk and by phone on 01865 279526.