Web site: http://dukequartet.net
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Renowned for its passionate performances, both live and recorded, the Duke Quartet has established itself as one of Europe’s most dynamic and exciting ensembles. The group’s versatility and fearless approach to music-making has led them into an unequalled range of projects including pop, education, dance and their own compositions all of which have been highly acclaimed for its quality of musicianship, technique and diversity of repertoire
The Duke Quartet’s passion for the new and a desire to push back the boundaries is evident in their commitment to commissioning and performing new works from composers such as Graham Fitkin, Deirdre Gribben, Emily Hall, Rolf Hind, Michael Nyman, Joby Talbot, Andrew Toovey and Kevin Volans. This, together with the player’s love and command of the traditional string quartet repertoire, has helped The Dukes to become one of the most sought-after string quartets. They have been giving recitals for over fifteen years becoming a vibrant part of the national chamber music scene, performing in the UK’s top venues and festivals with such artists as Marc-Andre Hamelin, Alexander Baillie and Jessye Norman and broadcasting regularly on BBC Radio 3. Their international schedule has taken them to countries as far apart as Columbia, the Yemen, South Africa and Japan.
The Quartet’s outstanding musicianship can by heard on their many CDs. The Dukes’ debut recording, featuring works by Barber, Dvorak and Philip Glass, was selected at the 1995 Cannes Classical Music Awards as one of the world's top debut CDs of the year and their disc featuring Berg's Lyric Suite and Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht received glowing reviews for its intense musicality and technical excellence. The 2002 recording of music by Kevin Volans, with whom they have had a close working relationship for many years, received a Gramophone Award nomination for best contemporary recording. The Dukes most recent release is Steve Reich’s Different Trains and Marc Mellits String Quartet No 2 Black Box.
Following The Duke’s work on Morrissey’s first solo album Viva Hate, the quartet has developed into one of the most in-demand string quartets in the pop industry. Their unique and rich timbre, coupled with intuitive arrangements from violist John Metcalfe, has flavoured music from many top bands including Blur, the Cranberries and The Corrs. They have worked many times with the Pretenders, collaborating on an acoustic greatest hits album, Isle of View, and touring the UK and the USA. In 2004, the quartet toured Australia with the Dixie Chicks.
The Duke Quartet has enjoyed a long association with the renowned Belgian dance company Rosas, with whom they have performed worldwide. In 2003 they toured Europe to celebrate Rosas’ 20th anniversary year performing Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue and Bartok’s Fourth String Quartet. In 2006/07 the Dukes and Rosas will take part in another European tour performing works by Bartok, Beethoven and Schoenberg in Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Holland and the UK.
Education and outreach work is an important part of the quartet’s output and during the last ten years they have given over 400 workshops and concerts in schools, colleges, hospitals, prisons and universities. This ranges from simple demonstration and games with primary school children to detailed discussion of technique and composition with university students.
In 2004 the Duke Quartet performed the complete Bartok cycle at Bromsgrove Festival, toured Portugal under the auspices of the British Council, took part in the BBC’s John Cage Festival and Manchester’s QuartetFest, and as part of their on-going commitment to new music, premiered seven works in one evening during the opening of the 60th Cheltenham International Festival of Music. More recently the group premiered Names of the Dead by Stephen McNeff, a musical memorial for those killed by the conflict in Iraq, written for voices and string quartet. Last year, the Dukes collaborated with pianist and composer Rolf Hind in a series of concerts in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff performing Hind’s own Eye of Fire piano quintet, Schnittke’s Piano Quintet and new works from the next generation of composers.