Emile Souvagie (clarinet) and Solem Quartet, Friday 12th July 2024 at 6.30 pm, Royal Over-Seas League, London

Emile Souvagie (clarinet)
Solem Quartet

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Nadia Boulanger (arr. Amy Tress): Three pieces for cello and piano, arranged for string quartet

Beethoven: String Quartet No 16 in F major, Op 135


Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A major, K 581

We are delighted to welcome the Belgian clarinetist Emile Souvagie, winner of the Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music competition Gold Medal in 2023, together with the Solem Quartet for our summer concert including the much-loved Mozart clarinet quintet.

Emile Souvagie graduated from Lemmensinstituut highschool in Louvain with Greet Severens, and continued his studies with Benjamin Dieltjens at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, obtaining his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical music combined with a bachelor’s in historically informed performance practice. 

The Belgian clarinettist then spent an Erasmus year with Hermann Stefánsson at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, and studied last year with Ralph Manno at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne. He received masterclasses from such musicians as Yehuda Gilda, Martin Fröst, Philippe Berrod, Charles Neidich, Olivier Patey and Andreas Sundén. 

Souvagie gained orchestral experience through projects with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Belgian National Orchestra and Brussels Philharmonic. On period clarinet he played with the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées and the Collegium Vocale Ghent Academy under Philippe Herreweghe. 

He played principal clarinet in the Dutch National Youth Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra Flanders. 

Souvagie is a founding member of the Firgun Ensemble, which won first prizes at the Storioni Concours and the Supernova Competition. In 2021 he was selected by Belgian classical radio station Klara as one of ‘De Twintigers’.

Praised for their “immaculate precision and spirit” (The Strad) and “cultured tone” (Arts Desk), the Solem Quartet – Amy Tress and William Newell (violins), Stephen Upshaw (viola) and Stephanie Tress (cello) – has established itself as one of the most innovative and adventurous quartets of its generation. A 2020 awardee of the Jerwood Arts Live Work Fund, one of 33 artists selected from more than 1200 applicants, the Solem Quartet takes its place amongst some of the UK’s brightest artistic voices. 

Since winning the Royal Over-Seas League Ensemble Competition in 2014, the Solem Quartet has built a strong following. They enjoy a busy concert schedule, ranging from international tours to performances at venues such as London’s Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Halls, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and Oxford’s Holywell Music Room.

Passionate about collaboration, the Quartet has worked with artists from across genres including filmmaker Jessie Rodger, cellist/singer/composer Ayanna Witter-Johnson, and clarinettist/composer Mark Simpson, with whom they appeared at the Aldeburgh Festival and live on BBC Radio 3. They have also worked closely with many of today’s leading composers, including Anna Meredith, Colin Matthews and Thomas Adès, and in 2021 gave the UK premiere of Jonny Greenwood’s Quartet Suite from “There Will be Blood” at the V&A Museum.

The success of their groundbreaking ‘Solem Lates’ concept, created in 2019 with the aim of presenting classical music in a fresh way and reaching broader audiences, has underlined the Quartet’s position as leading exponents of new music. Between 2020 and 2023, the Quartet’s ‘Beethoven Bartók Now’ series featured six major commissions from composers including Edmund Finnis and Bushra El-Turk, as well as a wealth of digital content to attract new audiences and educational activity for composers.

‘The Four Quarters’, the Solem Quartet’s debut album, was released to critical acclaim in September 2021. Using Thomas Adès’ The Four Quarters as a framework – and featuring several arrangements by the ensemble – this CD explores composers’ depictions of night and day and all the moments in between; from the melodious dawn chorus of Cassandra Miller’s Warblework, via Bartók’s earthly and touching portrayal of An Evening in the Village, to Kate Bush’s ethereal And Dream Of Sheep. The Quartet recently signed a three-disc deal with Delphian Records and will be releasing their next recording “Painted Light” in Autumn 2023.

The Quartet takes great pride in its educational work. From 2015-17 they held the Junior Fellowship in Chamber Music at the Royal Northern College of Music and since 2016 they have been Quartet in Residence at the University of Liverpool.

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