MIDDLEBURY, Vt.?The London-based Belcea Quartet brings a burst of freshness and energy to the international chamber music scene. The group will make a Vermont stop on theircurrent United States tour with a performance at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 16, in the Concert Hall at Middlebury College's Center for the Arts. The quartet's Middlebury program will include Haydn's Opus 20, No. 2; Britten's First Quartet; and Beethoven's Opus 59, No. 2 (Razumovsky).
Belcea's members will also offer a lecture on Britten's First Quartet as well as a demonstration for the department of music's orchestration class, taught by Middlebury College Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Dalit Warshaw. The lecture and demonstration, which will take place on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 1 p.m. in the Concert Hall, are free and open to the public.
Founded in 1994 at the Royal College of Music, the Belcea Quartet was coached by the Chilingirian Quartet, the Amadeus Quartet and Simon Rowland-Jones. Its members have garnered increasing international attention since 1999 when they won first prize at international string quartet competitions in both Osaka and Bordeaux. That led to their representation of Great Britain in the European Concert Halls' "Rising Stars" series during the 1999-2000 season. As part of the series, the Belcea Quartet made debuts in New York, Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels and London. In May 2001, the quartet received the Chamber Music Award of the Royal Philharmonic Society.
In addition to concert and festival appearances, the quartet was a guest artist for the BBC Radio 3 "New Generations" program from 1999-2001. In 2001, the group's first recording for EMI, featuring works of Debussy, Ravel and Dutilleux, won Gramophone Magazine's debut recording prize. The recording also won a Diapason d'Or Award and led to a five-year recording contract with EMI.
A reviewer at the Belcea's Edinburgh Festival debut in 2001 declared, "There is such character about them for such a young quartet. Each player's voice is brought out beautifully. . I was really quite overcome."
Their schedule in 2002-2003 took them to countries all over the world, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Japan and Europe.
London remains the Belcea Quartet's home base, where the group is currently in residence at Wigmore Hall. The venue provides ample opportunities for collaboration with other musicians such as Thomas Kakuska, Isabelle van Keulen and Piotr Anderszewski.
In 2003-2004, the Belcea Quartet continues to tour extensively in Europe, including debut performances at the Helsinki and Schleswig-Holstein Festivals and concerts in Zürich, Vienna, Milan, Amsterdam, Brussels and Frankfurt. The quartet's members make their Spanish debut and plan six concerts at Madrid's Auditorio Nacional de Musica during the year. Next summer, they will present a Haydn-Bartok series with the Vertavo Quartet at the Aldeburgh Festival.
This season, the Belcea has been performing selections of Bartok, Britten, Schubert, Strauss and Komarova. The group's Middlebury performance is sponsored by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series.
The Middlebury Center for the Arts Concert Hall is located on Route 30 (South Main Street). Tickets for the performance are $12 for general admission and $10 for seniors. For tickets or information, call the College Box Office at 802-443-6433 or visit the College's Web site at www.middlebury.edu/arts/.
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