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TRISKEL CHRISTCHURCH - Saturday May 11th at 1.10pm

The National String Quartet Foundation introduces two talented young quartets from CIT Cork School of Music. Their programme includes the first of Shostakovich’s fifteen string quartets, the premiere of a new quartet by Cork based composer Ian Wilson, and one of just three quartets that Brahms allowed to be published, having destroyed some twenty earlier attempts.

Kate Fleming, violin
Helen Rutledge, violin
Stephen Kelleher, viola
Callum Owens, cello

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SHOSTAKOVICH: Quartet No.1 in C major Op.49 [1938]

Shostakovich’s heroic fifth symphony restored him to favour with the Soviet establishment in 1937 after he came under heavy criticism from Stalin for his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Shostakovich wrote: ‘The whole year after completing Symphony No. 5, I did nothing. I merely wrote the Quartet, consisting of four small sections… It would be foolish to seek anything profound in it. I should call it the ‘Spring Quartet’’ This is music of great charm and brilliance, its superb writing for the string quartet a sure portent of the fourteen extraordinary quartets that followed it.

Molly O’Shea, violin
Caoimhe Browne, violin
Cian McGarry, viola
Zoë Nagle, cello


IAN WILSON: CAPITAL, string quartet no.20 – world premiere

Inspired by the sights and sounds of Cork City, Cork-based composer Ian Wilson’s twentieth string quartet is a collaboration with the Vanir Quartet and is funded by a project award from Cork City Council. The Shandon Bells can be heard in bell-like harmonics and irregular rhythms; the river Lee’s tendency to flood is expressed through gradually rising chordal playing and extremes of dynamic and density and Christchurch and its history brings music of great delicacy, as if heard through the distant centuries.

BRAHMS: String Quartet in A minor Op.51 No.2 [1873]

Proud, defiant, tender and life affirming, Brahms’ A minor quartet is the most popular and accessible of his three string quartets and one of the pinnacles of the string quartet repertoire. As he emerged with his own distinctive voice from the long shadow of Beethoven, he brought his own philosophy to his quartet writing: "A musician is no machine," Brahms once told a musical friend, "he is a human being; he must always have something to say. Whoever has the dissonant note must also have its resolution." To follow each player’s part within the extraordinarily detailed textures of this quartet is to discover that Brahms practised what he preached, and to understand why musicians so love to perform his chamber works.

We are delighted to announce the programme for this year’s gala fundraising concert on Saturday 15th June in UCC’s Aula Maxima. Please click here for more!

The National String Quartet Foundation is a legacy of the work of the Vanbrugh Quartet. Resident Quartet to RTE from 1986 to 2013 and Artists in Residence at University College, Cork from 1990 until the retirement of violinist Gregory Ellis in 2017, the Vanbrugh Quartet gave nearly two thousand concerts throughout Ireland as well as enjoying a successful international career.

The Foundation creates and sponsors projects which bring live chamber music to audiences throughout Ireland. It is committed to supporting musicians who wish to explore and perform the string quartet repertoire and to helping concert promoters present this rich and rewarding music. Please read more about the Foundation here

The Foundation is a registered charity No.20200357. We rely on donations from supporters, so if chamber music has made a difference to your life, please consider making a donation. 


If you would like to contact us to discuss any aspect of the Foundation, please use the Contact link above.

The Foundation is profoundly grateful to its founding sponsors: