The Castalian Quartet is rapidly emerging as an exciting voice on the international chamber music scene
Named 2019 Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist of the Year, their recent and forthcoming highlights include debut invitations to Carnegie Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, Paris Philharmonie, Auditorium du Louvre, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Lucerne Chamber Music Society, Brussels Flagey, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Saffron Hall, and the Aldeburgh, East Neuk, Spoleto, North Norfolk, Heidelberg Spring, Rheingau, Mosel, and Dresden festivals. The Quartet’s 2019-2020 Wigmore Hall cycle of Brahms and Schumann featured collaborations with Stephen Hough, Cédric Tiberghien, Michael Collins, Nils Mönkemeyer, Isabel Charisius, and Ursula Smith. In 2018, they recorded the complete Haydn Opus 76 quartets for the Wigmore Live label.
Formed in 2011, the Castalian String Quartet studied with Oliver Wille of the Kuss Quartet at the Hannover Hochschule für Musik, soon winning 1st Prize at the 2015 Lyon Chamber Music Competition and 3rd Prize at the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition. Their influential teachers to date include Simon-Rowland-Jones, David Waterman, and Isabel Charisius. In 2016, the Quartet were selected by the Young Classical Artists Trust, and more recently were named recipients of the inaugural Merito String Quartet Award/Valentin Erben Prize and a 2018 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship.
In only a few seasons, the Quartet have made critically-acclaimed debuts at New York’s Lincoln Center, Banff International String Quartet Festival, the Vancouver Recital Series, Montreal’s Salle Bourgie, and The Philips Collection in Washington D.C. Other highlights include performances at the Hamburg Chamber Music Series, International Musikfest Goslar, Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker, and the Bath, Cheltenham, North Norfolk, Peasmarsh, and Winchester festivals. They were also the resident ensemble at the Esbjerg International Chamber Music Festival in Denmark. Their many notable collaborators have included Aleksander Madzar, Alasdair Beatson, Simon Rowland-Jones, Daniel Lebhardt and Olivier Stankiewicz.
Who we are and how we met
Let’s begin with the final piece of the puzzle. Our first violinist, Sini, is a nomadic, polyglottic Finn, often sighted with a tennis racquet slung over her shoulder as well as a violin case. We found her in Hannover, Germany, where she was completing her solo degree as we were studying for a Masters in Chamber Music. One day she flung a hopeful message into cyberspace stating her desire to play string quartets. Fortuitously, it landed in our email account and the rest, as they say…
Charlotte and Daniel form our inner parts. She is a vegan violist who can tie herself into baffling yogic knots. He is a steak-loving second violinist with dodgy knees. She’s French, brought up high in the Alps. He’s Welsh, brought up at the foot of Ben Nevis. Charlotte’s first love is her Siberian cat Lancelot. Daniel’s is Liverpool Football Club. She went to the Royal Academy of Music. He went to the Royal College of Music. She’s petite. He isn’t. Otherwise, they’re inseparable, our Chaz and Daz, and have been ever since the Castalians’ first bow-strokes back in 2011.
Two years earlier, Daniel arrived in London to commence his studies at the College. A local cellist with a plummy accent took pity on this wide-eyed chap from up North and befriended him over lunch in nearby Hyde Park. On his return from a postgraduate course in Lugano, Chris joined the quartet. Since then he’s been whetting our appetites with culinary wizardry and wetting watercolour blocks with landscapes of our travels.
Today, we all reside in London, rehearsing in South Kensington and giving concerts everywhere from the Wigmore Hall to Warren Hill prison, Carnegie Hall to the Colombian rainforest.
It’s some journey being in a string quartet, and one we feel immensely lucky to take together.
Our name is derived from the Castalian Spring in the ancient city of Delphi. According to Greek mythology, the nymph Castalia transformed herself into a fountain to evade Apollo’s pursuit, thus creating a source of poetic inspiration for all who drink from her waters. Herman Hesse chose Castalia as the name of his futuristic European utopia in The Glass Bead Game. The novel’s protagonist, a Castalian by the name of Knecht, is mentored in this land of intellectual thought and education by the venerable Music Master.