Castalian String Quartet

Castalian String Quartet
Sini Simonen, violin Daniel Roberts, violins Ruth Gibson, viola Steffan Morris, cello

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 |  7:30pm

Herbst TheatreVenue Information


About This Performance

In an ingenious chain of inspirations spanning 220 years, the Castalian String Quartet’s program—and the Turnage commission featured on it—mark the 100th anniversary of Janáček’s Kreutzer Sonata quartet. For his new quartet, Turnage returned to words by the Beethoven sonata’s original dedicatee for inspiration. The Castalian Quartet are “a feisty group, with a real personality and strong interpretative ideas” (The Guardian).



JANÁČEK: String Quartet No. 1 Kreutzer Sonata
MARK-ANTHONY TURNAGE: Awake (composed for Castalian Quartet, premiering 2023)
MENDELSSOHN: Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80

Performance Sponsors

Bruce and Carolyn Lowenthal

Artist Information

Performer Biography

Since its formation in 2011, the London-based Castalian String Quartet has distinguished itself as one of the most dynamic, sophisticated young string quartets performing today. Appointed the inaugural Hans Keller String Quartet in Residence at the Oxford University Faculty of Music in 2021, they are also the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2019 Young Artists Award. The Quartet is gaining international acclaim as they take their talents abroad, having performed at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Berlin Philharmonic, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Paris Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus, Montreal’s Salle Bourgie, Carnegie Hall, and the Spoleto USA Festival, among many other esteemed venues worldwide.

The Castalian String Quartet will tour North America in the 2022–23 season with performances in San Diego and Berkeley, California; Schenectady and Buffalo, NY; Middlebury, VT; Waterford, VA; Durham, NC; and Toronto in Canada. The Quartet collaborates with many living composers, including recent premieres of works by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Charlotte Bray, and Edmund Finnis. In the 2023–24 season, they will perform several U.S. concerts with pianist Stephen Hough featuring Hough’s own string quartet in addition to the Brahms quintet. They have also established a strong presence abroad, with performances of the complete Haydn Op.76 Quartets at Wigmore Hall; concerts at the Paris Philharmonie, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. They have played at the Heidelberger Frühling, East Neuk, Zwischentöne in Engelberg, Neuchatel Chamber Music Switzerland, and Banff International Festivals. Further afield, they undertook tours of China and Colombia.

In spring 2022, the Castalian Quartet released its first recording, Between Two Worlds (Delphian), featuring works by Thomas Adès, Beethoven, and first violinist Sini Simonen’s own arrangements of early works by Orlando de Lassus and John Dowland. BBC Music Magazine raved: “Perceptively programmed, Between Two Worlds explores the mystic properties of time through a series of intricately connected works, each performed with rare beauty and originality by a quartet working at the height of its powers,” and praised the quartet as “intimately alive to every shift of colour and mood in this extraordinary score and succeeds in conjuring the sense of both deep contemplation and vivid spontaneity.” Gramophone praised the album as “consistently sensitive; bright, focused, [and] agile…this excellent presentation facilitates a highly creative brand of time travel…a most fascinating release.”

The Castalian Quartet studied with Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet) at the Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media, graduating with a Master’s degree. In addition to the above, awards include Third Prize at the 2016 Banff Quartet Competition and First Prize at the 2015 Lyon Chamber Music Competition. The Quartet was selected by Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) in 2016. They have received coaching from Simon Rowland-Jones, David Waterman and Isabel Charisius.

Their name is derived from the Castalian Spring in the ancient city of Delphi. According to Greek mythology, the nymph Castalia transformed herself into a fountain to evade Apollo’s pursuit, thus creating a source of poetic inspiration for all who drink from her waters. Herman Hesse chose Castalia as the name of his futuristic European utopia in The Glass Bead Game. The novel’s protagonist, a Castalian by the name of Knecht, is mentored in this land of intellectual thought and education by the venerable Music Master.

Artist Video

Castalian String Quartet Plays Quartet in D Minor, Op. 76, No. 2—I. Allegro by Haydn