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Features / Edinburgh Quartet returns after 20 years

The Edinburgh Quartet returns to the isles this week. Photo: Jean Stoner

SHETLAND Arts’ classical season is set to continue next Wednesday with The Edinburgh Quartet’s first performance in the isles in nearly two decades.

One of the UK’s most celebrated ensembles, The Edinburgh Quartet will be playing a programme which they describe as “varied, and covers a broad spectrum of style”.

The programme includes famous pieces such as Haydn’s intense String Quartet (Op 20 No 5), and Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No 2 (which Tchaikovsky himself once referred to as his “finest work”).

Czech composer Leoš Janáček’s Intimate Letters also features, as well as an exciting new composition by award-winning composer Tom Harrold, simply titled Elegy, for which the quartet will be joined by local musicians.

Scottish composer Harrold’s work has received considerable attention and multiple awards, as well as a Guinness World Record for his work Ticcatoccatina (for “most musicians playing the same piano at once”).

Elegy is as new as a piece can be, having been written specifically for The Edinburgh Quartet as part of their North-South-East-West project. It is receiving its world premiere at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh just three days before the concert in Mareel on Wednesday.

The Edinburgh Quartet has a notable tradition of fostering and supporting new talent, with close ties to Aberdeen, Stirling, Edinburgh and Napier universities.

They also have a robust programme of outreach work, and while in Shetland will be visiting schools and care homes, as well as engaging with a number of local musicians.

Shetland News spoke to quartet member Catherine Marwood about the group’s visit, which she said they were “very much looking forward to”.

“The Janacek is my favourite piece out of the whole quartet repertoire,” she said. “A unique voice and highly charged with passion and virtuosity.

“I’m also looking forward to putting Tom’s piece together and meeting local musicians. It’ll be a lot of fun I’m sure.”

The ensemble has not been to Shetland since the 1990s, although individual members have played in the isles before with different groups.

“We’ll be working quite hard over the few days of our visit, but I’m sure we’ll get out to see some of the sights, “Catherine said.

“Last time I was on the island I sat by the shore and watched a sea otter playing in the water.

“The skies were magnificent too and we all came away with wonderful photos and memories. I’m sure we’ll be keen on visiting the local restaurants too!”

Alex Garrick-Wright