Saturday 29 July 7:30pm Gala Opening Concert at Concord College £18/£9
The Martinů Quartet, originally the Havlák Quartet, was formed in 1976 by students of the Prague Conservatoire, inspired by and modelled on such string quartets as the Vlach and the Smetana. Intensive practice and study of the quartet repertoire resulted in seven prizes at important international competitions. They included 2nd prizes at the ARD Munich, Evian (France), Yehudi Menuhin (Portsmouth, Britain) and The Prague Spring competitions.
These successes began the Quartet’s brilliant international career, placing it firmly in the internationally respected Czech string-quartet tradition.
The original Havlák Quartet changed its name in 1985 as a token of its commitment to promote the work of one of the great masters of Czech music, Bohuslav Martinů. Their efforts were rewarded by a MIDEM prize in Cannes in 2004 for the best CD of the year in the chamber music/solo category – the CD being the second of three NAXOS CDs with Martinů’s seven quartets and other chamber compositions.
Although the main weight of its repertoire is centred on the music of the world’s great composers, the Quartet takes pleasure in seeking out neglected works and in giving first performances of pieces by contemporary composers. It has received an MW Classical Music Web’s “CD of the Month’s” award for its recording of works by Sylvie Bodorová (Terezín Ghetto Requiem) and Ronald Stevenson. It is engaged on a long-term project of performing and recording the complete quartet output of the leading Czech composer resident in the USA, Tomáš Svoboda.
Apart from its busy concert schedule which takes in prestigious podiums at home and abroad, the Martinů Quartet plays on the Czech Radio, as it has done on the BBC, Radio France, ARD and ORF.
Graham Walker is no stranger to Festival audiences having performed many times, especially with Classico Latino. He is an award-winning cellist and conductor, educated at St John’s College, Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Music. As a cellist he has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in many of the world’s most prestigious halls. In addition, he is much in demand as a choral director, and, alongside his work as Precentor at Magdalene College Cambridge, he is Director of St John’s Voices at St John’s College, and Musical Director of two other choirs. As a result of his work with Classico Latino, the innovative Latin/Classical crossover ensemble, in 2011 he was awarded a plaque on Colombian national TV in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to Colombian Andean music”.
Anton Dvorak – String quartet in F major op. 96 “American”
Leos Janacek – String quartet No. 1 “Kreutzer Sonata”
Franz Schubert – String Quintet in C major (D. 956, Op. posth. 163)