Van Kuijk Quartet
Presented in association with OMNI Foundation for the Performing Arts
Friday, February 10, 2023 | 7:30pm
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
About This Performance
Shining at the top of a new wave of guitarists, Sean Shibe creates imaginative programs aglow with innovation, new music, and passionate insights into classics. The Guardian enthused, “What’s really striking is the way in which Shibe sustains a world of intensity and introspection through playing that buzzes with vitality.” Named BBC New Generation Artists, the Van Kuijk Quartet’s “unanimity, tonal blend and intonation are close to flawless” (Gramophone).
BOCCHERINI: Guitar Quintet No.4 “Fandango"
MACKEY: Physical Property
DE FALLA: Homenaje: Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy for Guitar
CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO: Guitar Quintet Op. 143
One of the most versatile guitarists performing today, Sean Shibe’s innovative approach to his instrument has enhanced his reputation for having “one of the most discriminating ears in the business” (Gramophone). He was the first guitarist ever to be selected for BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists scheme, to be awarded a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, and, in 2018, to receive the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Young Artists. Additional accolades include the Royal Over-Seas League First Prize and Gold Medal (2011), and a prize from Dewar Arts and the 2015 YCAT International Auditions.
2021 marked the release of Shibe’s latest album, Camino, featuring an introspective program of French and Iberian music. The album has been named the recording of the month by BBC Music Magazine as well the recording of the week by The Guardian, Presto Classical, and The Times of London, describing it as “one of the most compelling and touching recitals for the instrument I can recall.”
Shibe’s debut album, Dreams and Fancies (2017), was named Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and nominated for a BBC Music Magazine Instrumental Award. The Gramophone award-winning softLOUD (2018) was hailed as “spectacular” (Gramophone) and “gripping” (The Guardian), using both acoustic and electric guitar in repertoire ranging from Scottish lute manuscripts to electric guitar arrangements of Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint. With the laconically titled Bach (2020), a chart-topping recording of Bach lute suites arranged for guitar, Shibe became the cover star of Gramophone Magazine’s June 2020 issue in which the disc was named Editor’s Choice. The recording earned glowing reviews from The Times and The Scotsman, with Presto Classical and Europadisc both naming it Disc of the Week, and has received the Gramophone Award in the Instrumental Category.
Shibe was one of the first artists to return to the Wigmore Hall following the Covid-19 lockdown, receiving a five-star review from The Guardian for his “irresistible style and authority…a nonchalant virtuoso and boundary breaker.” He opened his 2021–22 season with a BBC Chamber Prom at Cadogan Hall, followed by appearances at the Schleswig Holstein Music Festivals, St David’s Hall Cardiff, Glasgow Cathedral Festival, and King’s Place in London. Other recent stage highlights include performances at the Southbank Centre in London, Liszt Academy in Budapest, the Alte Oper Frankfurt, Heidelberger-Frühling, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Musashino Hall in Tokyo, the East Neuk and Aldeburgh Festivals, and Marlboro Summer Music Festival—the latter at the invitation of Mitsuko Uchida.
He has appeared with almost all of the UK symphony orchestras and this season performs in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and in Gent and Rovereto. Recent collaborators include the BBC Singers, flautist Adam Walker, singers Allan Clayton, Ben Johnson, Robert Murray,and Robin Tritschler, and performance artist and art filmmaker Marina Abramović.
A great admirer of the masterful composers of the past, Shibe is equally committed to conceiving imaginative programs of new music and commissions. Alongside his own transcriptions of Bach’s lute suites and seventeenth century Scottish lute manuscripts, he continues to explore, experiment, and expand the repertoire for his instrument both in the studio and on stage with the music of composers such as Daniel Kidane, David Fennessy, Sofia Gubaidulina, Thomas Ades, Shiva Feshareki, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Sir James Macmillan, Mark Simpson, Sylvia Villa, and Freya Waley-Cohen.
Born in Edinburgh in 1992 of English and Japanese heritage, Shibe studied under Allan Neave at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and Paolo Pegoraro in Italy. Shibe currently holds a teaching position at University of the Arts Bremen.
Van Kuijk Quartet’s international accolades boast First, Best Beethoven, and Best Haydn Prizes at the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet competition; First Prize, and an Audience Award at the Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition; as well as becoming laureates of the Aix-en-Provence Festival Academy. They were BBC New Generation Artists from 2015-17, as well as ECHO Rising Stars for the 2017-18 season.
Following such high success early in their career, the ensemble is an established international presence and has been invited to perform at the Wigmore Hall, London; Philharmonie de Paris, Auditorium du Louvre, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, and Salle Gaveau, Paris; Tonhalle, Zurich; Wiener Konzerthaus and Musikverein, Vienna; Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; Berliner Philharmonie; Kölner Philharmonie; Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg; Gulbenkian, Lisbon; Tivoli Concert Series, Denmark; Konserthuset Stockholm; and at festivals including the BBC Proms, Cheltenham, Heidelberg, Lockenhaus, Davos, Verbier, Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier/Radio France, Evian, Auvers-sur-Oise, Stavanger and Trondheim (Norway), Concentus Moraviae (Czech Republic), Haydn/Esterházy (Hungary), and Eilat (Israel).
2022 marks the Quartet’s 10 year anniversary. The occasion will be celebrated with a number of special projects centering around Mendelssohn’s string quartet cycle – which they will record for Alpha Classics. Further programs will see them premiere a new work by Benjamin Attahir, and perform a selection of French melodies specially arranged for them. They will tour to the US, Canada, Australia, and Asia making anticipated debuts at venues including Sydney Opera House, UKARIA in Adelaide, and Shanghai Symphony Hall, China.
Their debut recording, Mozart, was released to outstanding critical acclaim—CHOC de Classica, Diapason D'Or Decouverte. Following celebrated discs of Debussy, Ravel, and Schubert, they continued their ongoing exploration of Mozart with two further releases across 2020.
The Quartet was resident at ProQuartet, Paris, where they studied with members of the Alban Berg, Artemis, and Hagen quartets. Originally students of the Ysaye Quartet, they went on to work with Günter Pichler at the Escuela Superior de Mùsica Reina Sofia in Madrid, supported generously by the International Institute of Chamber Music, Madrid.