A couple of weeks have passed since we returned from Facyl, an annual arts festival held in Salamanca, Spain where we performed the complete string quartets of Beethoven over six days. It was a remarkable experience, both completely energizing and completely exhausting, and one that will surely stay with us for the rest of our days.
Facyl (Festival Internacional de las Artes de Castilla y Leon) has a contemporary feel with Calixto Beito, the artistic director, giving particular emphasis to theatre and street performance. Not the normal environment for a Beethoven string quartet cycle, but a couple of factors made it fit – the venue wasn’t a traditional concert hall but a very beautiful art deco museum, The Casa Lis, complete with a striking stain-glass ceiling and balconies looking down onto the main hall of the gallery where the performances took place. Also the audiences consisted of a wide variety of people, from teenagers in skinny jeans to more traditional classical concert-goers to breast-feeding mothers. Towards the end of the week, the audience had grown so much that people were sprawled out on the floor as more traditional seating options had run out. We responded to these unusual elements very positively, and felt particularly inspired to make Beethoven’s quartets as relevant to today’s world as the break-dancing workshops taking place on the street outside.
We have another complete Beethoven cycle in August as part of the Edinburgh Festivities, this time spread out over a fortnight in late-night concerts in the historic Greyfriars Kirk. We feel very fortunate to have these opportunities so early in our career, and look forward to continuing our infinitely rewarding journey into this most extraordinary music.
The Heath Quartet play the Beethoven quartet cycle at the Edinburgh Fringe, 12-26 August 2011. Full details here