Isla Quartet

Premiere of Ronald Center's String Quartet No. 3

Saturday 16 November 2013 • 7.30pm
Tin Hut, Gartly (map)

Tickets £10.00, £6.00 (concession), free (schoolchildren)
available from Deveron Arts, Orb's Bookshop, Rizza's shop, or at the door

The Isla Quartet will give the first ever complete performance of the String Quartet No.3 by Ronald Center.

The programme will also feature the first performances of several short pieces specially written for the concert by young people and the premiere of the String Quartet No.7 by local composer David Ward, commissioned by Music Centeral with subsidy from Creative Scotland. The concert also includes the youthful Second Quartet by Felix Mendelssohn.

BBC Radio 4 Today presenter James Naughtie will talk about his memories of his teacher Ronald Center, and Anna Lavigne will read poems by Maureen Ross and Brian Nisbet between the movements of the Center quartet.

Ronald Center: String Quartet No.3 (manuscript)

Ronald Center: String Quartet No.3 (manuscript)


David Ward (b. 1941): String Quartet No.7 (commissioned by Music Centeral with subsidy from Creative Scotland: first performance)
This compact quartet plays without a break. However, there are many changes of tempo and character during its twelve minutes, although much of it is directly derived from the very simple but slightly lop-sided four note figure that opens the piece.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847): String Quartet No.2 in A minor, Op.13
Mendelssohn composed his String Quartet No.2 in 1827, when he was 18 years old, and this was, despite its published number, Mendelssohn's first string quartet. The piece draws much of its inspiration from Beethoven's quartets. It is in four movements.


Two Duos:
Rachel Stott: Instead of the Today Programme (for violin and cello)
James East: Song for Violin-Viola

From P4 pupils at the Gordon Schools, Huntly:
Tunes by Aidan, Alanah, Alasdair, Alasdair, Annie, Bente, Caitlin, Charis, Finn and Paige

Pieces for string quartet by older students, five of them in S4 at the Gordon Schools:
Karen Lock: String Quartet
Rebecca Henderson: School Song Arrangement
Jessica Brook: A Trio of Cities
Lewis Holliday: Petrichor Quartet
Innes White: String Quartet
Esther Smith: Spring in Strathbogie
Iona Fyfe: Scottish String Quartet: War – Peace
Annie Lennox: Hit the Tin

Ronald Center (1913–1973): String Quartet No.3
This will be the first complete performance of this seven-movement quartet, written in 1969 or 1970, although an incomplete performance was given by the Cuarteto Arcos in 1979 in Bogotá. Each movement is strikingly different in character. There are moments of twelve-tone serialism, which nevertheless resolve tonally, and other passages that seem to anticipate minimalism well before that became established. His one use of a key signature is of seven sharps for a ten bar section that is more or less in the Lydian mode. Center's widow, Evelyn was quoted in an article in the Evening Express in 1979 as saying: "After so many setbacks in the 50s and 60s, he lost heart. About three years before he died, he decided after finishing his third string quartet that he wouldn't write another piece of music. I think that's because he felt his life's work was done." However, manuscripts were later found which suggest that he did write again before his death in 1973.

Ronald Center

Ronald Center

Ronald Center (1913–1973) was born in Aberdeen, where he studied piano with Julian Rosetti and organ with Willan Swainson and worked as a soloist, accompanist, teacher, church organist and choral conductor.

He moved to Huntly in 1943 with his wife Evelyn, a distinguished soprano, and taught music in the Gordon Schools for six years before devoting himself to composition and private tuition.

Many of his works have been broadcast and recorded, notably the symphonic poem The Coming of Cuchulain in 1944. The String Quartet No.1 was recorded by the Saltire Quartet in 1995, and the Isla Quartet recorded and played the Second Quartet in Huntly in 2008. The String Quartet No.3 in seven movements is perhaps his most radical piece. There was an incomplete performance in Bogotá in 1979, but this will be the first time it has been played in its entirety.

David Ward was born in 1941. He studied composition with Alexander Goehr and lives in rural North-East Scotland.

In 1992 his hour-long symphonic cantata Beyond the Far Haaf, to a libretto by Robert Alan Jamieson about a 19th century Shetland fishing disaster, was premiered in Lerwick by Margaret Cable and Graham Titus, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jerzy Maksymiuk. It was later broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

His recent piece e-mails from Palestine was premiered at Woodend Barn, Banchory as part of the Sound Festival in 2010 with an immediate second performance, followed by a third performance in Cambridge in 2011.

The first six string quartets have been played by the Bingham String Quartet, the Edinburgh Quartet and other ensembles in Scotland and around the world. String Quartet No.7 has been commissioned by Music Centeral with subsidy from Creative Scotland for performance at this concert.

David Ward

David Ward (photo: David Gordon, Knock News)

Isla Quartet

Isla Quartet

Isla Quartet
Philippa Mo, violin
Emily White, violin
Rachel Stott, viola
Rebecca Rees, cello

The members of the Isla Quartet are based in London and play with ensembles such as the English National Ballet, the Sixteen, Music Theatre Wales, the Orchestra of St John's Smith Square and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The quartet leader Philippa Mo is part of the duo Retorica whose CD English Duos was Gramophone Choice, April 2013. The second violinist is Emily White who is well known in Huntly for her work with the Huntly Summer Music School.

Maureen Ross is a founder member of Huntly Writers. Her collection Day Moth was published in 2006. Brian Nisbet studied creative writing at Oxford and appeared at the Oxford Fringe Literary festival and with R. V. Bailey in The Turning Wheel. He has had commissioned poems set to music for BBC Radio 3 and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Brian and Maureen are poetry writing tutors at Huntly Summer School.


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