Heath Quartet, photo by Kaupo Kikkas

Ensemble Will Perform Entire Bartók Cycle, Plus Haydn, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky Works

Heath3 credit Kaupo Kikkas.jpg

Middlebury, VT—The Middlebury College Performing Arts Series is proud to engage the acclaimed Heath Quartet as its first-ever Quartet in Residence to kick off 2016. The U.K.-based ensemble will spend all of Middlebury’s Winter Term on campus, performing in two free concerts on January 14 and 21, and a third, ticketed concert on February 4. Their residency will also include many other activities such as coaching music students, visits with local elementary schools, pop-up concerts, and more.

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The dynamic and charismatic Heath Quartet—comprised of violinists Oliver Heath and Cerys Jones, violist Gary Pomeroy, and cellist Christopher Murray—was formed in 2002 at the U.K.’s Royal Northern College of Music. The quartet has earned a reputation as one of the most exciting British chamber ensembles today. Among their many honors are a Borletti-Buitoni Special Ensemble Scholarship and the 2012 Ensemble Prize at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In May 2013 they became the first ensemble in 15 years to win the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artists Award. Performing Arts Series Director Allison Coyne Carroll knew the Heath Quartet were rising stars when she heard their U.S. debut at Middlebury in April 2014: “What makes them special is their desire to express each composer’s intention with great integrity—and they’re able to do so with incredible skill, and an impeccable sense of ensemble.”

The Quartet recently released their latest CD, a recording of the complete quartet cycle of British composer Michael Tippett. Their next two recordings, due out this year on the Harmonia Mundi label, will feature Tchaikovsky quartets (studio recording) and Bartók quartets (recorded live at the Wigmore Hall).

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The Heath Quartet’s 2015/16 season focuses heavily on the string quartets of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. Their first two concerts at Middlebury will feature the complete Bartók cycle, performing quartets 1, 3, and 5 on January 14, and quartets 2, 4, and 6 a week later on January 21. Violinist Cerys Jones describes playing Bartók: “From the moment the bow first touches the string, this music demands 100 percent commitment from every member of the quartet. Every moment of the music is high energy, high impact—from the depths of depression to the heights of euphoria—so it’s not a challenge so much as a thrilling prospect! I think these quartets suit us as a group because they’re so physically dynamic. We’re often told, and I think it’s true, that we’re a very physical quartet, so it feels natural to us to express this music with mind, soul, and body.”

The January 14 and 21 concerts are being offered free of charge, thanks to generous support from the Sunderman Family Concert Endowment Fund, in memory of Dr. F. William Sunderman Jr. and Dr. Carolyn Reynolds Sunderman.

The Heath Quartet’s third and final concert, on February 4, will feature a mixed repertoire program including Haydn’s Op. 20 No. 5, Beethoven’s Op. 135, and Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No. 3. Tickets are required for this performance (see details below).

While on campus, the quartet will also engage in master classes and coaching sessions with students of all ages, including Middlebury College composition and electronic music students, the Middlebury College Orchestra, and elementary school audiences from Weybridge, Aurora, and Shoreham schools. They may even work with student members of the Performing Arts Series Society to stage “pop-up” concerts in the dining halls.

The three concerts by the Heath Quartet will take place on Thursday, January 14 (free), Thursday, January 21 (free), and Thursday, February 4 (ticketed), all at 7:30 P.M., in Robison Hall at the Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts. The Mahaney Center is located on the campus of Middlebury College, at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south/S. Main Street. Free parking is available curbside on Rt. 30 or in the Center for the Arts parking lot, in rows marked faculty/staff/visitors. Tickets for the February 4 concert are $20 for the general public; $15 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and other ID card holders; and $6 for Middlebury College students. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to

Photos by Kaupo Kikkas

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