Stage is set for talented quartet

Elias String Quartet, Alnwick Playhouse, Saturday, November 5, 7.30pm. Tickets £14, £13 conc, students free.

Alnwick Music Society welcomes this talented quartet to the Playhouse for its second concert of the season.

Elias comes with a towering reputation as one of the foremost quartets currently touring the world’s concert halls.

Formed originally in 1998 at the Royal Northern College of Music and known as the Johnston String Quartet, they won a prize at the 2003 London International String Quartet Competition.

Subsequently, they took over from the Lindsay Quartet at the Sheffield Music in the Round.

Paul Driver, writing in the Sunday Times in 2009, said of the leader, Sara Bitloch, ‘she performed with soaring confidence, dazzling high register and rhythmic energy bringing Menuhin’s playing to mind’.

The quartet takes its name from the German form of Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah. Following work with the late Dr Christopher Rowland in Manchester they spent a year in Cologne with the Alban Berg Quartet.

In recent times, they have performed in the BBC’s New Generation Artist Scheme, won a Barletti–Buitoni Trust Award and last year, their Mendelssohn, Mozart and Schubert recording on the Wigmore Hall Live label won the BBC Music Magazine Award.

They have recently toured Australia, Italy and Amsterdam followed by a European tour with pianist Jonathan Biss. Coming up is a Wigmore Hall series and an American tour with a debut performance at Carnegie Hall. They are about to record the entire Beethoven String Quartet oeuvre.

Alnwick will be treated to two of those String Quartets in B flat major, opus 130 and 133. They begin their programme with a Beamish String Quartet and the Haydn String Quartet in C major.