written by Lila Abersold
The Elias Quartet, a rather young and much admired group from Great Britain, will be performing at Libby Gardner Hall on the University of Utah Campus as part of the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City on March 26 at 7:30 pm.
The Elias Quartet began at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England in 1998. For 11 of those years they have consisted of the present formation: 2 French/Catalan sisters, a Swedish/Estonian viola player and a Scot. They take their name from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah, of which Elias is the German form. Mendelssohn’s op. 13 was one of the first pieces they played that felt like a quartet to the group. They were passionate about all of Mendelssohn’s music and wanted the connection with him in the name of the quartet and have maintained the link to his music.
Violinist Sara Bitloch says, “We come from diverse backgrounds, but I think in terms of styles of playing, the more ways we have of expressing things, the more interesting a quartet can be. It’s really the big challenge to bring all these differences together, but it’s also an amazing thing when it works. The result is somehow bigger than the sum of its parts. No one person comes through as just himself. They’re always a part of the four, and it’s the combination which is so interesting.” Sara Bitloch loves chamber music above all other music and it has become the main focus of her musical life. She joined the Elias Quartet in 2003 after performing with other chamber music groups and winning prizes for her playing. She has performed in France, England, Spain and the U.S. as a soloist.
Donald Grant, violinist, was influenced by the music of the Scottish Highlands as part of a family steeped in the tradition of Gaelic folk music. He studied at at the Royal Northern School of Music in Manchester, England. It was there that the Elias Quartet began life. Marie and Donald founded a string quart in 1998 under another name. At the time they did not know that their student group would evolve into a professional ensemble.
Martin Savings, violist, is of Estonian/Swedish parentage. He has received a number of scholarships and awards for his playing and has performed in festivals in Sweden, Finland and Great Britain as well as on radio and TV. Martin is passionate about baroque music.
Marie Bitloch, cellist and sister of Sara, met her fellow quartet members at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. She has given recitals as a soloist with orchestras throughout France, Spain and England, but has decided to stay in England and dedicate herself to chamber music. Marie has been a member of the Elias Quartet since 1998.
The program on March 26 will be: Haydn, Quartet in C Major, Op. 33, No. 8 “The Bird”; Britten, Quartet No. 3 in G Major, Op. 94 (1975); and Mendelssohn, Quartet in Fminor, Op. 80. Quoted from an interview with Shirley Apthorp for Musica Viva Tour 2013, Australia, Bitloch says: “We each have different musical tastes and influences, and everyone brings that passion to the Quartet from a different angle. That ends up a good mixture.” The performance promises to be an exceptional evening. Their technique and interpretation will be profound and beautiful in this performance.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Libby Gardner Concert Hall
1375 E. Presidents Circle, SLC