The Castalian Quartet is rapidly emerging as an exciting voice on the international chamber music scene
Recipient of the inaugural Merito String Quartet Award & Valentin Erben Prize and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship Award in 2018, the Castalian String Quartet this season gives debut recitals in New York City (Lincoln Center), Washington D.C. (Phillips Collection), Montreal (Salle Bourgie), Toronto (Canadian Opera Company), Vancouver (Vancouver Recital Series), Paris (Auditorium du Louvre), Brussels (Flagey) and Vienna (Wiener Konzerthaus).
The Quartet regularly appears in the Wigmore Hall’s main series. This year they will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Elgar’s string quartet and piano quintet, which took place at the hall, with Aleksandar Madzar. In the Wigmore Hall’s 2019/20 season they will be joined in their series of Brahms and Schumann chamber music by guest artists Stephen Hough, Cédric Tiberghien, Michael Collins, Nils Mönkemeyer, Isabel Charisius and Ursula Smith.
2019 sees return visits to the Aldeburgh Festival – including the UK premiere of ‘Aloysius’ by Edmund Finnis – Saffron Hall and the North Norfolk Music Festival, where they will premiere a new work by Simon Rowland-Jones.
Highlights over the last year have included performances of the complete Haydn Op.76 Quartets at the Wigmore Hall and appearances at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, East Neuk Festival, Heidelberger Frühling Festival, Zwischentöne Festival (Switzerland), Neuchâtel Chamber Music, and Banff Centre International String Quartet Festival. Further afield they toured both China and Colombia.
Formed in 2011, the Castalian String Quartet studied with Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet) at the Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media, graduating with a Masters degree. Awards include 1st Prize at the 2015 Lyon Chamber Music Competition and 3rd Prize at the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition.
The Quartet was selected by Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) in 2016 and has received further coaching from Simon Rowland-Jones, David Waterman and Isabel Charisius.
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.