The Elias String Quartet

Saturday 24.9.16 7.30pm | St Thomas Church, Lymington

One of the most successful string quartets on the international concert circuit present two contrasting quartets and join Sam Haywood and star double bass player Chi-chi Nwanoku for a rare performance of Chopin’s own chamber music arrangement of his First Piano Concerto.


HAYDN String Quartet op 76 no 5 in D major
BARTOK String Quartet No 4 in C major

– Interval –

CHOPIN 1st Piano Concerto

Elias String Quartet
Sam Haywood, piano
Chi-chi Nwanoku, double bass

This concert is kindly sponsored by Rathbones

Rathbones Logo

‘Magic moments abound. This remarkable ensemble’s to live and breathe each phrase with an enraptured sensitivity proves revelatory’

– The Strad

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Elias String Quartet

The Elias String Quartet is internationally acclaimed as one of the leading ensembles of their generation. Known for their intense and vibrant performances, the quartet has travelled the globe collaborating with some of the finest musicians and playing in the world’s great halls.

2015 sees them complete their groundbreaking Beethoven Project: performing and recording the complete string quartets of Beethoven. Broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and performed in 11 major venues in the UK, the Quartet have also recorded the cycle for the “Wigmore Hall Live” record label. Six albums in total, the first was released in January 2015. The Elias will soon take all-Beethoven programmes to Carnegie Hall (New York) and San Francisco Performances. They have documented their journey on a dedicated website supported by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust:

Highlights of 2014/2015 include a month long tour of the USA and Canada, their debut at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, a return to The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and concerts in Turkey, Holland, Belgium and Germany.  They continue residencies with Glasgow Concert Halls, Turner Simms Concert Hall (Southampton) and The Brighton Festival. The Quartet will premiere a work written for them by young British composer Emily Howard at the Wigmore Hall and collaborate with various artists including Jonathan Biss, Francois-Rene Duchable and the Kungsbacka Trio.

The Quartet was chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists’ Scheme 2009-11 and is the recipient of a 2010 Borletti-Buitoni Award. They were awarded the 2010 BBC Music Magazine’s Newcomer of the Year Award and were nominated in 2013 and 2014 for an RPS Award and in 2014 for an Australian Art Music Award. In 2013 they were awarded a Mentoring Scholarship from the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn. They received 2nd prize and the Sidney Griller Prize at the 9th London String Quartet Competition. They have performed in some of the world’s most prestigious venues including the Vienna Musikverein, Berlin Konzerthaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Washington Library of Congress and the Wigmore Hall in London. The 13/14 Season saw the quartet take on major tours to the USA, Australia and Sweden as well as further performances across Europe in Vienna, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Bonn, Venice and Padua.

They have performed alongside such artists as Leon Fleisher, Michael Collins, Christian Zacharias, Pascal Moragues, Ralph Kirshbaum, Dame Anne Murray, Joan Rogers, Mark Padmore, Michel Dalberto, Peter Cropper, Malin Broman, Simon Crawford-Philips, Piers Lane, Ettore Causa, Anthony Marwood, Huw Watkins, Roderick Williams, Allan Clayton, Melvyn Tan and the Endellion, Vertavo, Navarra, Heath, Belcea and Jerusalem Quartets.

The Elias are passionate about new music and have premiered pieces by Sally Beamish, Colin Matthews, Matthew Hindson and Timo Andres. They worked with Henri Dutilleux on his string quartet “Ainsi la Nuit” and recently recorded Huw Watkin’s “In My Craft or Sullen Art ” with Mark Padmore for NMC label.

The Quartet is steadily building a recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim. Alongside three releases on the Wigmore Live label they have released discs of Mendelssohn and Britten. They have also released a disc of French harp music with harpist Sandrine Chatron for the French label Ambroisie, Goehr’s Piano Quintet with Daniel Becker for Meridian Records and most recently Schumann and Dvorak Piano Quintets with Jonathan Biss.

The Quartet take their name from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah, of which Elias is the German form. They formed at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where they worked closely with the late Dr. Christopher Rowland and later became Junior Fellows and Associate Quartet.  They also spent a year studying at the Hochschule in Cologne with the Alban Berg String quartet. Other mentors in the quartet’s studies include Peter Cropper, Hugh Maguire, Gyorgy Kurtag, Gabor Takacs-Nagy and and Rainer Schmidt.  For four years they were resident string quartet at Sheffield’s “Music in the Round” as part of Ensemble 360, taking over from the Lindsay Quartet.



“Remarkable throughout… bold, rich tone and expressive nuances contributing to an intense and deeply felt interpretation”

The New York Times  (Carnegie Hall, New York)

“The lyrical third movement was played so majestically that it moved this critic to tears, the human longing of Beethoven’s prayer being played with such sensitivity and vulnerability. It is hardly ever the case that gratitude is the lasting impression of a concert, but this is one of them”.

The Herald (City Halls, Glasgow)

“A revelation”

Radio 3, CD Review


Sam Haywood

Sam Haywood has performed to critical acclaim in many of the world’s major concert halls. The Washington Post hailed his ‘dazzling, evocative playing’ and ‘lyrical sensitivity’ and the New York Times his ‘’passionate flair and sparkling clarity’.

Next season will include solo and chamber music (with Joshua Bell) tours of USA and Europe, a solo recital at Kings Place, recitals with Mark Padmore (Schubert Winterreise), the Elias Quartet, Mariko Hara and Noboko Imai. He will also be recording his second solo album for Hyperion.

For Hyperion he has recorded the piano works of Russian pianist-composer Julius Isserlis, (grandfather of cellist Steven Isserlis) and is due to record Stanford Preludes.
His album ‘Composers in Love’ brings together both well-loved and lesser known music inspired by composers’ muses.

To celebrate Chopin’s bicentennial year, Haywood made the world première recording on Chopin’s own Pleyel piano, part of the Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands. He is featured on two of Joshua Bell’s recordings for Sony Masterworks. He is also featured on a recording of the music of the child-prodigy Alma Deutscher.

Following Sam’s early success in BBC Young Musician of the Year, the Royal Philharmonic Society awarded him their prestigious Isserlis Award. Sam studied with Paul Badura-Skoda in Vienna, where he began his enduring love affair with opera. At the Royal Academy of Music in London, he was mentored by the great teacher Maria Curcio, pupil of Artur Schnabel.

Sam is co-founder and Artistic Director of the Solent Music Festival, which combines recitals by internationally-renowned artists with projects in the local community. Sam attaches great importance to his work with young people. He is an Ambassador to the West Lakes Academy, has written a children’s opera and is regularly involved in family concerts, workshops and master classes. His ‘Song of the Penguins’, for bassoon and piano, is published by Emerson Editions.

He is also the inventor of memorystars® which can dramatically reduce the time needed to memorise a music score, or indeed any printed text.

His many passions include physics, natural history, technology, magic, fountain pens, kick-scooting and table tennis.

Chi-chi Nwanoku

Chi-chi Nwanoku is half the size of her double bass, yet has gained a reputation as one of the finest exponents of her instrument today. The eldest of five children from Nigerian and Irish parents, she was seven years old when she discovered the piano at a neighbour’s, who taught her to play a 12-bar blues. She returned to their house every day until the neighbour got so fed up that they wheeled the piano up the road and gave it to her as a gift!

Meanwhile, she was spotted (aged eight) by an athletics coach and trained as a 100-metre sprinter, eventually competing at National level. This career ended abruptly due to a knee injury aged eighteen, which is when (and why) she took up the double bass and began actively pursuing a career in music. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music and soon found herself in demand internationally.

Chi-chi is Principal Double Bassist and founder member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Endymion Ensemble. She is Professor of Double Bass Historical Studies at The Royal Academy of Music, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 1998.

Chi-chi also works as a broadcaster, presenting BBC Radio 3 Requests on Sundays for four years and was a member of the Jury for BBC 2’sClassical Star.

In 2001, Chi-chi was awarded an MBE for services to Music in the Queen’s Birthday honours and was one of this year’s 100 – Happy List in the Independent on Sunday.

She lives in London, and through shared interests with her children Jacob and Phoebe, was led back to ‘the track’ where she has competed over 100 metres again…as a veteran!