The Edinburgh Quartet has long been celebrated as one of Britain’s foremost chamber ensembles, having appeared regularly at prestigious venues across the UK and toured extensively across Europe, the Far and Middle East, and North and South America. In recent years Creative Scotland funding has enabled the Edinburgh Quartet to lead the way in making chamber music relevant in the 21st century, revitalising the genre with new concert formats, innovative programmes and multimedia.
In addition to giving around fifty concerts per year the Edinburgh Quartet is frequently featured in radio broadcasts. Recently this has included live appearances on Jazz Line-Up and In Tune (BBC Radio 3), Classics Unwrapped (BBC Radio Scotland), as well as video recordings for Studio One Sessions, which appear on the BBC Radio Scotland website.
The Edinburgh Quartet is committed to education and nurturing talent. It is resident at the University of Stirling whilst maintaining strong associations with the Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Edinburgh Napier University. As well as giving concerts at each of these institutions, the players regularly work with composition students, instrumentalists and student teachers. The Quartet has recently coached the senior orchestra of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland and its education and outreach programme also encompasses children’s workshops and tutoring adults on the Variations Summer School in Ullapool. Creative Scotland funding allowed the Quartet to instigate its own education initiatives, notably a string quartet coaching day at St Mary’s Music School Edinburgh, and the successful new Apprentice Scheme, where a talented young musician takes the place of a player on the concert platform.
The Quartet has always been a champion of new music and has worked with many important and prolific composers through the years such as Michael Tippett and Hans Gal whilst more recently the likes of its Patron, James MacMillan and Alasdair Nicolson. Recent Creative Scotland funding has enabled the Edinburgh Quartet to commission new works from young Scottish composers: Helen Grime, whose first string quartet was described in the press as “a triumph of concision”; and Silent Shores from Tom Harrold, premiered in May 2015.
The Edinburgh Quartet has an extensive and diverse discography. Their James MacMillan recording was awarded a Critic’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine: ‘These players have worked to produce the precise sound to transmit the emotional import of each phrase’. It received 5 stars in The Scotsman and was described in The Herald by Michael Tumelty as ‘absolutely essential listening’. Their 2014 Delphian release Postcard from Nalchik featuring Haydn, Prokofiev and Shostakovich was described in The Scotsman as ‘perky and pristine in the Haydn, gutsy and attitudinal in the folk-inspired Prokofiev, movingly sustained in the grim delights of the Shostakovich … richly considered, rigorously balanced and, ultimately, a musical treat.’ Their extensive discography also includes the complete string quartets of Mátyás Seiber, Robert Crawford and Thomas Wilson.