Solem Quartet and friends, revised date TBC, Royal Over-Seas League, London

Solem Quartet


  • Beethoven: String quartet in E flat major, Op 127 – Solem Quartet
  • Mendelssohn: Octet in E flat major, Op 20 – Solem Quartet, plus Martyn Jackson and Ionel Manciu (violins), Annie Beilby (viola) and Leo Poppelwell (cello)

The prize-winning Solem Quartet joins forces this evening with four other string players for the wonderful Mendelssohn string octet, preceded by Beethoven’s quartet Op 127.

Winner of the 2014 Royal Over-Seas League Ensemble Competition, the Solem Quartet was formed in 2011 at the University of Manchester. The members are: Amy Tress (violin), William Newell (violin), Alistair Vennart (viola) and Stephanie Tress (cello). The quartet takes its name from the university’s motto “arduus ad solem”, meaning “striving towards the sun”.

The quartet enjoys a busy concert schedule performing at venues both across the UK – including Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Bridgewater Hall and Holywell Music Room – and internationally. In keeping with its name, the Solem Quartet’s first project was to play the Haydn Op. 20 “Sun” Quartets. Their repertoire is extensive, spanning the period from early Haydn to a broad spectrum of living composers including Larry Goves, Anna Meredith, John Luther Adams and Emily Howard, whose quartet ‘Afference’ they performed in a BBC Proms Extra broadcast, live on BBC Radio 3.

They were 2016/17 Park Lane Group Artists and have given recitals at Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, St John’s Smith Square and St Martin-in-the-fields as part of the PLG recital series. From 2015-17 they held the Junior Fellowship in Chamber Music at the RNCM, giving regular coaching to chamber ensembles as well as a series of concerts.

Since September 2016 the quartet has been ‘Quartet in Residence’ at the University of Liverpool, and was also recently appointed ‘Ensemble in Residence’ at Aberystwyth MusicFest. They were selected as Tunnell Trust Artists in 2016, leading to a tour of Scotland in 2018. This year they will undertake a tour of China, with nine concerts in some of the country’s major concert halls.

The quartet features prominently on a CD of music by Richard Blackford, released on the Nimbus label in February 2019. The first work on the disc, Seven Hokusai Miniatures, was written for the quartet in 2018; each movement is based on a selection of paintings by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, with representations of landscapes, seascapes and scenes from Japanese life around Mount Fuji. The quartet has also recorded two CDs of 20th Century British music for Divine Arts.

The Solem Quartet has benefited from inspirational teaching from a number of the world’s greatest chamber musicians including Gábor Takács-Nagy, Thomas Adès, Michal Kaznowski, Gerhard Schulz and Richard Ireland. They have attended IMS Prussia Cove and the European Chamber Music Academy, as well as courses with the Chilingirian, Dante and Maggini Quartets. The quartet was delighted to have been selected for the prestigious ChamberStudio Mentorship 2014/2015, which allowed them to study intensively with the internationally renowned cellist Christoph Richter at Kings Place.

The quartet is particularly excited to have been privately commissioned to undertake a Beethoven and Bartók cycle beginning in 2020, which will feature performances of Bartók’s six quartets from memory, alongside Beethoven’s late quartets. The cycle will also include six brand new works, bringing the quartet’s total tally of commissions and premieres to sixteen.