With the support of major funding from the Arts Council, the National String Quartet Foundation presents ten quartets, all based in Ireland or including Irish players, in a season of thirty five concerts for promoters nationwide. The season incorporates an eight concert series at the National Concert Hall, a four concert series for Triskel Christchurch, Cork, and a three concert series for Mullingar Arts Centre. The season is also supported by University College, Cork, Cork City Council and Cork County Council.


OPHELIA cropped.jpg

Ophelia Quartet

Phoebe White
Colma Ní Bhriain
Seamus Hickey
Killian White

Mendelssohn String Quartet No.2, Op.13
Shostakovich String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor Op. 108
Robin Haigh Samoyeds (Dublin only)
Ravel String Quartet in F major

Made up of four of our most outstanding young artists, the Ophelia Quartet made their concert debut earlier this summer at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. Mendelssohn wrote his celebrated Op.13 quartet as a teenager, just a few months after Beethoven’s death, and in deep fascination with the master’s late quartets. Shostakovich’s seventh quartet was written in 1960 and is the shortest of the composer’s fifteen extraordinary string quartets. It is a masterpiece of concise expressivity, capturing a wide range of often conflicting emotions. Ravel’s 1903 quartet exudes a heady blend of classicism and exoticism which has seen it become a firm favourite amongst both musicians and audiences.

PiattiQ Walking colour.jpeg

Piatti Quartet

Nathaniel Anders-Frank
Michael Trainor
Tetsuumi Nagata
Jessie Ann Richardson

Brahms String Quartet No. 3
Áine Mallon Flotsam
Schubert Quartet No. 15 in G major

Prizewinners at the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition, the Piatti Quartet has performed in major venues and festivals throughout the UK and worldwide. Their programme opens with Brahms’ third quartet which ‘truly sounds like the work of a man on his summer holiday.  Especially in its outer movements there is a feeling of the countryside, of sunshine’ (Misha Amory). Áine Mallon is a young composer from Northern Ireland, whose short work Flotsam is a sonic exploration of how plastic pollution in our oceans is affecting marine life. Franz Schubert wrote ‘For long years I felt torn between the greatest grief and the greatest love...’, words which go to the heart of his epic G major quartet, perhaps the most noble yet poignant musical statement ever made.

Vanbrugh Ed David colour.jpg

The Vanbrugh

Keith Pascoe
Simon Aspell
Christopher Marwood
David McElroy, violin
Ed Creedon, viola

Danu Quartet.JPG

Danu Quartet

Kate Fleming
Helen Rutledge
Stephen Kelleher
Callum Owens

Shostakovich String Quartet No.1
String Quintet in G minor K516
Dvorak String Quintet in E flat major Op.97 ‘American’

The Vanbrugh - Keith Pascoe, Simon Aspell and Christopher Marwood - welcome David McElroy and Ed Creedon for performances of two of the great string quintets: Mozart’s dark and melancholic G minor quintet from 1787, and Dvorak’s sunny, mellifluous ‘American’ Quintet, written in 1891.

As curtain - raiser in three of the concerts, the Foundation presents a remarkable young group from CIT Cork School of Music, the Danu Quartet. They will play Shostakovich’s first string quartet, music of great charm and brilliance, its superb quartet writing a sure portent of the fourteen extraordinary quartets that followed it.

Lir Collage 6.jpg

Lir Quartet

Patrick Rafter
Siobhán Doyle
Ed Creedon
Christopher Ellis

Haydn String Quartet Op.77 No.1
Schubert String Quartet in E flat major D.87
Shostakovich String Quartet No. 3 in F major Op. 73

Founded for Barry Douglas’ 2017 Clandeboye Festival, the Lir Quartet is one of Ireland’s most exciting chamber groups. Joined for their fourth tour for the Foundation this autumn by violinist Patrick Rafter, they present three great works from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Haydn’s two quartets Op.77, written in 1799, were his last creations in the genre that he shaped and developed for half a century. Schubert’s E flat quartet D.87 was written in 1813 when Schubert was just 17 and, while not on the dramatic scale of his late quartets, is a masterpiece of Viennese charm and elegance. Shostakovich’s third quartet, from 1946, is one of the finest, most evocative works in the repertoire, a heart-rending response to the horror of the second world war.

Esposito 161.jpg

Esposito Quartet

Mia Cooper
Anna Cashell
Joachim Roewer
William Butt
Redmond O’Toole, guitar (Sligo only)

John Field piano works arr for Quartet by Sebastian Adams
Aleksandra Vrebalov Pannonia Boundless
Sebastian Adams new commission
Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 6 Op. 80 

The Esposito Quartet comprises four of our most distinguished musicians with a combined wealth of experience as recital artists, orchestral leaders and teachers, who have been playing as a quartet since 2010. Their tour this autumn brings two collaborations with composer Sebastian Adams: a new string quartet commissioned by the National String Quartet Foundation, and arrangements of three piano pieces by John Field, two Nocturnes and his Rondo Go to the Devil and shake yourself. They also include Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebablov’s entertaining and virtuosic tribute to her country’s Gypsy fiddlers, and Mendelssohn’s dark, brooding F minor quartet, written following his sister’s death in 1847.


ConTempo Quartet

Bogdan Sofei
Ingrid Nicola
Andreea Banciu
Adrian Mantu


Ellen Jansson, piano (Cork only)

Haydn String Quartet Op. 76 No.4 ‘Sunrise’
Jane O’Leary ‘The Passing Sound of Forever’
Debussy String Quartet in G minor, Op.10

Formed in Bucharest in 1995, Galway’s Ensemble in Residence since 2003 and RTE’s Resident Quartet from 2013 until 2019, the multiple award-winning ConTempo Quartet is Ireland’s longest established string quartet. Their programme opens with one of Haydn’s most beloved creations, his Sunrise quartet. The nickname describes the opening bars, but all four movements are full of Haydn’s fathomless creativity and invention. Jane O’Leary’s 2015 quartet The Passing Sound of Forever was inspired by the first movement of Beethoven’s F minor quartet Op.95 and incorporates material from that work into characteristically evocative and compelling soundscapes. Turner was one of Debussy's favourite painters, and the sense of motion and activity in Turner's skies and seas finds its way into this stunning, sensual quartet from 1893.


Navarra Quartet

Magnus Johnston
Marije Johnston
Sasha Bota
Brian O’Kane

 La oración del torero No. 34
György Kurtág Ligatura Y
Puccini Crisantemi  
György Kurtág Ligatura - Message to Frances-Marie
Janáček String Quartet No.1 'Kreutzer Sonata'
György Kurtág Arioso Interrotto (from Officium Breve 1988)
Schubert String Quartet in D minor ‘Death and the Maiden’

The Navarra Quartet enjoys an international reputation as one of today’s most dynamic and poetic string quartets. Prizewinners at competitions in Canada, Australia and Italy, their line-up includes Irish cellist Brian O’Kane.

Their programme this autumn is based around two of the most powerful works in the repertoire. Janacek’s Kreutzer Sonata evokes the raw emotions of love and jealousy while Schubert’s towering masterpiece Death and the Maiden pits fear and drama against the fragility of love and beauty. These are complemented by a string of evocative miniatures to create a fine programme, guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Vanbrugh Ed Liz Maria.jpg

The Vanbrugh

Keith Pascoe
Simon Aspell
Christopher Marwood
with guests
Maria O’Connor, cello
Elizabeth Charleson, violin
Ed Creedon, viola

Danu Quartet.JPG

Danu Quartet

Kate Fleming
Helen Rutledge
Stephen Kelleher
Callum Owen

Three concerts by the Vanbrugh in Cork City and County

The Vanbrugh and guests present the second of Brahms’ two celebrated string sextets. Written in 1864, the G major sextet has been described as ‘the most ethereal of Brahms’ larger works’ and from its mysterious opening to its brilliant conclusion, the work presents a dazzling variety of mood and texture.

The Danu Quartet are a remarkable young quartet based in CIT Cork School of Music and in two of these concerts they present Beethoven’s epic F major string quartet. From the era of his Eroica symphony, this great quartet offers a sweeping, expansive first movement, a witty, inventive, scherzo, one of Beethoven’s most moving slow movements, and a brilliant, virtuosic finale.

Friday 22nd November 2019 at 1.10pm - University College, Cork

Beethoven - Quartet Op.59/1 (first movement) - Danu Quartet
Brahms - String sextet in G major - The Vanbrugh, with Elizabeth Charleson, Ed Creedon and Maria O’Connor

Saturday 23rd November at 4pm, Musica Fusion School of Music, Charleville

Brahms - String sextet in G major - The Vanbrugh, with Elizabeth Charleson, Ed Creedon and Maria O’Connor

Sunday 24th November at 3pm - Ahabeg Vista, Castletownbeare

Beethoven - Quartet Op.59/1 (complete) - Danu Quartet
Brahms - String sextet in G major - The Vanbrugh, with Elizabeth Charleson, Ed Creedon and Maria O’Connor


Carducci Quartet

Matthew Denton
Michelle Fleming
Eoin Schmidt-Martin
Emma Denton

Haydn String Quartet in D major Op. 20 No. 4
Moeran String Quartet No.2 in E flat major
Boydell Adagio and Scherzo
Dvořák String Quartet No. 12 Op. 96 ‘American’

The versatile and award-winning Anglo-Irish Carducci Quartet was founded in 1997 and has won numerous international competitions, including the Concert Artists Guild Competition 2007 and Finland’s Kuhmo International Chamber Music Competition 2004. ‘Every page of the six quartets of op. 20 is of historic and aesthetic importance’. So wrote Donald Tovey of this set of quartets by Haydn, and the miraculous D major quartet is no exception, exuding a sense of musical adventure. E.J.Moeran spent much of his life in Ireland and the influences are clear in his joyful and melodic E flat quartet. Brian Boydell was a towering figure in musical life in Ireland in the second half of the twentieth century and his Adagio and Scherzo is a concise, characterful work from 1991. Dvorak’s American Quartet remains one of the most popular and loved quartets in the repertoire, renowned for its flavours of American, African-American and Slavonic folk music.

ficino quartet.jpeg

Ficino Quartet

Elaine Clark
Lynda O'Connor
Nathan Sherman
Ailbhe McDonagh

Thomas Adès ‘The Four Quarters’
Haydn String Quartet in D major Op. 76 No. 5
Donnacha Dennehy ‘Stamp (to avoid erotic thoughts)’
William Walton String Quartet No. 2 in A minor

Ficino Ensemble was formed by Artistic Director Nathan Sherman in 2012 as a flexible group aiming to perform popular chamber music alongside lesser known works that deserve to be appreciated. The Quartet features four outstanding musicans who are building an impressive reputation and an exciting repertoire. Their programme includes two major British works: William Walton’s second quartet from 1946 and Thomas Adès's award-winning second quartet, The Four Quarters, from 2010, written for the Emerson Quartet. Haydn’s Op.76 No.5 - the one with the other-worldly slow movement in F sharp major, and Donnacha Dennehy’s rhythmically entertaining Stamp, complete a fascinating and rewarding programme.