The Elysian Quartet is one of the UK’s most innovative young ensembles and the only British string quartet of its generation focused exclusively on 20th Century, contemporary and experimental music. It was formed in 1999 by prize-winning students at Trinity College of Music and has since performed all over the world to great acclaim. International engagements have included a British Council tour of Taiwan and concerts in the Canary Islands, France, Belgium and at the Montepulciano Festival in Tuscany. In the UK, the quartet has performed at the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Dartington International Summer School, Oxford Contemporary Music and at festivals nationwide. January 2005 saw the Elysian Quartet open the Park Lane Group New Year Series at the South Bank and the quartet has returned to the same venue twice since: in July 2005, performing alongside percussionist Joby Burgess thereby becoming the first string quartet to perform at the prestigious Rhythm Sticks festival, and again in April 2007 joining legendary cult singer Damo Suzuki for a pioneering free-improvised performance.
Notable for the breadth of their musical interests, the Elysians have worked with artists as diverse as virtuoso beat-boxer Killa Kela, jazz pianist Keith Tippett, and experimental electronic composer Simon Fisher-Turner. A desire to bring contemporary classical music to a wider audience has lead to them playing George Crumb's renowned electronic masterpiece Black Angels in Ronnie Scott's jazz club, performances of special contemporary classical ‘sets’ at London band nights, including recent support for bands such as Hot Chip and Polar Bear, and joining forces with electro-acoustic composer and producer Gabriel Prokofiev to found the ‘Chamber Music @ Cargo’ contemporary classical club night in 2004, the first event of its kind to be held at the renowned Shoreditch venue. That same year the Elysian Quartet also released a recording of Gabriel Prokofiev’s string quartet no.1 (an Elysian Quartet commission) on the Nonclassical label. The recording aroused much interest as along with the dance music influenced original work it also featured remixes by some of the UK’s most talented producers. It has since received airplay on BBC Radio 1, Radio 3, Radio 4, Classic FM, BBC and ITV television and other radio and TV stations abroad.
Recent commissions for Elysian Quartet include a major new work, Inside, by Graham Fitkin, and a second string quartet from Gabriel Prokofiev (commissioned with support from PRS Foundation) which will be released on CD and 7” vinyl later this year with remixes by an impressive selection of producers including Hot Chip. Max De Wardener chose to compose for the Elysian Quartet for his 2006 commission from PRS Foundation and the National Portrait Gallery. The resulting works will comprise part of a limited edition music/artwork product being released in collaboration with famed Radiohead visual artist Stanley Donwood also to be released later this year. Following the success of their performance at the eclectic 2006 Homefires Festival at Conway Hall, the Elysian Quartet is one of four artists/bands selected for the inaugural Homefires UK Tour this June.
'‘...outstanding coolness and flexibility... quicksilver tonal variety... sharp musical and technical reflexes.’
‘Feisty boundary pushers, four supremely talented classical musicians’
EVENTS in 2007
with Elysian Quartet