On Saturday, February 23, 2019, Candlelight Concert Society will be presenting the internationally acclaimed Doric String Quartet at Howard Community College, Smith Theatre, Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual & Performing Arts Center. The Doric String Quartet will be playing music by Haydn, Britten and Mendelssohn.
Tickets are available online.
Firmly established as one of the leading quartets of its generation, the Doric String Quartet receives enthusiastic responses from audiences and critics across the globe. Winner of the 2008 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan and 2nd prize at the Premio Paolo Borciani International String Quartet Competition in Italy, the Quartet now performs in leading concert halls throughout Europe including Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Konzerthaus, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Hamburg Laeiszhalle and De Singel, and is a regular visitor to the Wigmore Hall. The Quartet tours annually to the United States and made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2017.
Since 2010 the Doric Quartet has recorded exclusively for Chandos Records, with their releases covering repertoire ranging from Schumann through to Korngold and Walton as well as works with orchestra including Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro and John Adams’ Absolute Jest. Their 2017 release of Schubert’s Quartettsatz and G Major Quartet was named Editor’s Choice by Gramophone and nominated for a 2017 Gramophone Award. The Quartet’s ongoing commitment to Haydn has so far seen them release the complete Opus 20, Opus 76 and Opus 64 quartets with the recordings attracting acclaim including Editor’s Choice in Gramophone, Choc du Mois in Classica Magazine and a shortlisting for a Gramophone Award. Future releases include quartets by Mendelssohn, Britten and the complete Haydn Opus 33 Quartets.
Formed in 1998 the Doric String Quartet studied on the Paris-based ProQuartet Professional Training Program and later at the Music Academy in Basel, then being selected for representation by YCAT in 2006. In 2015 the Quartet was appointed as Teaching Quartet in Association at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The Quartet’s violist Hélène Clément plays a viola by Guissani, 1843 generously on loan from the Britten-Pears Foundation and previously owned by Frank Bridge and Benjamin Britten.
The group includes Alex Redington, violin, Ying Xue, violin, Hélène Clément, viola and John Myerscough, cello.
I had the opportunity to ask John Myerscough some questions about his background and about the Quartet’s music.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born and raised? When did you first start playing your instrument? Where did you go to school for your musical education? What drew you to your instrument?
I was born in London, UK and started the cello aged 4. Around this time I was taken to the house of a friend of my parents. Upstairs lived a double bassist, and I was taken to see this enormous instrument. It made such a big impression on me that I nagged my parents for one. However, in those days mini-basses did not exist. So, I couldn’t play on [a double bass] and was told I had to start on the cello. I’ve never moved on from that! Growing up in London I went to a normal high school, and my musical education took place at the Royal College of Music, Junior Department which I attended every Saturday. But, more importantly, was the time I spent going to chamber music camps at Pro Corda in the county of Suffolk in the east of England. This was where I met Alex Redington at the age of 9 and with whom I was put together into a quartet at the age of 15. After high school I went to the University of Cambridge to read music and then to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London to further my cello studies.
How did your group form?
The quartet began at Pro Corda in 1998 when we were aged 15/16. We were put in a quartet together in order to prepare for a String Quartet symposium held in Cambridge and organized by Yehudi Menuhin and members of the Amadeus Quartet. We were given Debussy’s quartet to learn and, on being told that it was rather tricky – full of complicated and exposed harmonies – we instantly started to work in a very focused and serious manner, and then never looked back!
What are your musical influences? Teacher, musician, composer, etc.?
Early musical influences came from studies with the Amadeus Quartet and then from a wide array of teachers who we met whilst attending courses at the Paris-based ProQuartet Centre for String Quartet Studies. Here we worked with members of the Alban Berg, Artemis and particularly with Walter Levin from the LaSalle Quartet. We also first met Rainer Schmidt from the Hagen Quartet who then became our mentor and principal teacher. We spent 6 years visiting him regularly in Basel, Switzerland.
What composers or musical compositions do you, personally, enjoy playing.
As a quartet, we are particularly drawn to the classics – Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven. There is really no greater experience than performing and working on late Beethoven Quartets and late Schubert. We do however perform pieces from all periods and are particularly drawn to the 20th-century masters – Bartok and Britten.
This one is for all the children out there who want to be musicians. How many hours a week do you practice and rehearse?
We usually rehearse for 4 hours a day as a group and then also do at least 2 hours of personal practice. But as kids, the most important thing to do is to do regular practice. It’s much better to do 30 mins a day, every day than to cram it all into one big practice day!