CONFIDENCE Being with the BBT gives us the opportunity and support to realise our most ambitious dreams. With their fantastic team to nurture and guide us we now have the confidence to take these projects further. The financial support of the award allows us only to worry about the music... surely every musician’s fantasy.Elias String Quartet"
Sara Bitlloch violin
Donald Grant violin
Martin Saving viola
Marie Bitlloch cello
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 Théâtre 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. They will also perform Elgar's "Introduction and Allegro" with the Britten Sinfonia.
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 given 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 Fleischer, 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, György Kurtág, Gábor Takács-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.
Last updated: February 2015
BBT Project: The Beethoven Project website dedicated to preparations for a complete cycle of Beethoven String Quartets from 2011 to 2015 www.thebeethovenproject.com
"It’s a very interesting package; not just a cheap marketing shot, but a real attempt to demystify the whole business of string quartets, the almost mythical status of Beethoven, and to draw listeners into the process of learning, collaboration and assembling this mighty series of non-stop masterpieces."
Michael Tumelty, The Herald 18 April 2011
"A wonderful and wonderfully ambitious project has just been launched by the young Elias Quartet, a truly in-depth approach to the complete Beethoven quartets…It’s a splendid venture, generously sponsored by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, a great supporter of classical music to whom we’re all indebted."
James Jolly, Gramophone June 2011
"The young and very gifted Elias String Quartet are getting ready for the big one – Beethoven, the complete string quartets. But how does a young group get the word out in a market that is half competitive, half indifferent and when so many other brands are far better known? Start with a website…get a few heavyweights to blog on it, kicking off with the Lindsay Quartet’s Peter Cropper. Keep the thing refreshed with new features. Shoot a short film. Build an audience online. Look and learn. That’s how. I like these guys. They’re thinking creative."
Norman Lebrecht, Arts Journal 1 April 2011
- Production of The Beethoven Project website and associated materials including podcast; video diary; programme notes; blogs; publicity
- Survival money
- Participation in BBT Celebrated
- Concert clothing
- Publicity folders
- Updating Elias String Quartet website including translations
Edward Seckerson Podcast
Elias String Quartet talk about The Beethoven ProjectOn the eve of the first concerts of their Beethoven Project series, the Elias String Quartet\'s Donald Grant and Marie Bitlloch talk to Edward Seckerson about the unique world of the string quartet and what makes the Beethoven quartets so special. The podcast is available to download on The Arts Desk here.
produced by Edward Seckerson
BEETHOVEN Op133 GROSSE FUGEElias String Quartet Live from Wigmore HallRecorded at Wigmore Hall on 16 December 2011, Elias String Quartet performs the epic "Grand Fugue" conclusion to Op.130. The quartet starts its complete cycle of the Beethoven String Quartets in November 2012. Full details at the dedicated website www.thebeethovenproject.com
INSIGHT TO BEETHOVEN OP.130 & OP.133Sara Bitlloch introduces Op.130 with the Grosse Fuge
Part of the Elias String Quartet\'s Beethoven Project, Sara Bitlloch gives her insight to one of the most profound pieces of classical music writing. The "Grosse Fuge" originally composed as the conclusion for Op.130 was so challenging that Beethoven had to write an alternative ending. Filmed at the Wigmore Hall shortly before the performance in December 2011, Follow the quartet\'s Beethoven journey at www.thebeethovenproject.com