Exciting new times for Elias Quartet

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Donald, Sara and Marie Bitlloch and Martin Saving left in summer 2009 after four years as founding members of Ensemble 360 in 2005.

The ‘crazy time’ has included a successful tour of Australia, a visit to the Kungsbacka Trio’s festival in Sweden, a Mendelssohn cycle at King’s Place, London, a residency at the Wigmore Hall and debuting at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

There has also been the BBC New Generation Scheme membership, which ends this year, and everything they have undertaken has been greeted with rave reviews.

They are presently giving concerts as part MitR’s Around the Country tour and Donald summarises what the Elias have coming up.

“Lots of recordings for Radio 3, which includes concerts at the Proms, City of London Festival and Cheltenham Festival. We’re off to China (Hong Kong in March) and our first tour of the States, including our Carnegie Hall debut.

“We’ll be recording with tenor Mark Padmore and clarinetist Michael Collins. We’re also having a couple of new pieces written for us, which is very exciting.”

Dwelling on what the plans are to do with the funding that came with the award from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust last year can also be described as ‘very exciting!’

“We’re working towards a Beethoven cycle. We’ll be playing the quartets (16 of them) extensively over the next three years and performing the complete cycle in various venues the year after.”

A new website from March will follow the Elias’ journey through the quartets with textual, audio and visual elements, plus contributions from experts and quartet players.

“Our first call was to Peter Cropper, who will be contributing, and we’d love to come back and share our findings with the MitR audience,” writes Donald.

The Elias dipped their toes into Beethoven quartet waters on two or three occasions during their time in Sheffield and will be playing two this Friday, Op 18 No 1 – No 1 in the canon – and Op 59 No 3 – No 9, the third ‘Razumovsky’ quartet, so called after their dedicatee Count Razumovsky.

Bartók’s No 3 separates them and Donald says the Elias can’t wait to get back to the Crucible Studio.

“It was our first home and the Studio has special memories for us and it has that unique atmosphere. We’re really looking forward to meeting the audience again.”