Dante Biography

The Dante Quartet, one of the UK’s finest ensembles, is known for its imaginative programming and impassioned performances. The quartet was founded in 1995 and chose its name to reflect the idea of an epic journey. The Dante Quartet has been honoured with the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Chamber Music and has also received international awards for its recordings. The wide age-range of the Dante Quartet’s members creates a harmonious and exciting blend, marrying youthful enthusiasm with rich experience and consummate technical skill.

Frequently heard on Radio 3, the Dante Quartet has appeared many times at London’s Wigmore Hall and Kings Place, as well as at the UK’s foremost festivals and music societies. Abroad, the quartet has played in France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, the Czech Republic and Poland, and has twice toured Japan.

The Dante Quartet has made a series of acclaimed recordings for Hyperion, winning the BBC Music Magazine Award and the French Diapaison d’Or for its disc of quartets by Fauré and Franck. The quartet has also recorded for Signum with celebrated tenor Andrew Kennedy, and is currently recording the complete quartets of Stanford for the SOMM label, most of them unpublished and unjustly neglected. The first two of these discs have attracted enthusiastic reviews and the third will appear in 2019. The Dantes’ latest recording of quartets by Howells will be released in March 2019.

Last year the Dante quartet collaborated with playwright Clare Norburn (author of concert-drama “Breaking the Rules”) on a dramatized version of Beethoven’s quartet cycle, featuring actor David Timson as the composer. This innovative format has proved popular, and “Beethoven’s Quartet Journey” has had many performances. Most recently, the Dantes have performed all 15 of Shostakovich’s string quartets in a single marathon weekend. Plans for 2019 include a Kings Place concert and a tour of China.

Committed also to teaching, the Dante Quartet has created an annual string quartet course in France and also gives masterclasses in Cornwall. The quartet has enjoyed close links with King’s College, Cambridge, collaborating with the celebrated King’s College Choir and creating a concert series combining music with poetry.

New music forms an important strand of the Dante Quartet’s repertoire: commissions and premieres include works by Matthew Taylor, Cheryl Francesco Hoad, Dmitry Smirnov, Elena and Alissa Firsova, Michael Finnissey and Roxanna Panufnik. In February 2017 the quartet gave the world premiere of a song cycle by Jonathan Dove for baritone and string quartet, titled “Who Wrote the Book of Love?”

In 2004 the Dante Quartet founded its own chamber music festival in the Tamar Valley, presenting classical quartet concerts alongside collaborations with international artists from other disciplines such as folk and jazz. Since then, the Dante Summer Festival has become a thriving annual event, attracting enthusiastic local audiences as well as visitors from all over the world.

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