Introducing The Dunev Quartet|Formation of a String Quartet

Hristo Dunev. Mahaliah Edwards. Eleanor Chapman. Alice Cheer. We are the Dunev Quartet, a string quartet formed in October 2017 at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Formation

Although we were “put” together by the head of chamber music, from early on, it was clear that as musicians, we were completely on the same wavelength. All four of us immediately shared interest and excitement to play great chamber music and share it. What’s great is that individually, we all have quite different personalities which somehow manage to compliment each other. The unique situation of a string quartet is that it we spend a LOT of time together practising and then scheduling rehearsals as well as general planning and strategising and so we have become very close colleagues.

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The quartet

Hristo – our very talented first violinist from Bulgaria. He has won a plethora of awards and is an avid photographer.

Me – I’m the second violinist of the quartet and…well if want to know more about me you can read my about me page on my blog!

Eleanor – is the viola player of the quartet. She’s from Lancashire, she’s a fab musician and also has the best fashion sense.

Alice – is from Cardiff and is without doubt the most organised student in the country. She keeps us all in check!

Since our formation, we have been fortunate to have regular coaching with Rose Redgrave and Robin Ireland. In addition, we have received coaching from Sini Simonen and Christopher Roberts of the Castalian Quartet; Jana Kuss and William Coleman of the Kuss Quartet, Oliver Heath and Krysia Osostowicz.

 

 

Repertoire

Our current repertoire consists of Beethoven’s quartet no.10 op.74 aka “The Harp” and Haydn’s op.20 no. 5. Soon to come is Shostakovich’s 8th quartet. Past performances include November 2017 in the Recital hall at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, January 2018 at the Birmingham Central Library. Upcoming events include a performance of Beethoven op.18 No.5 in the Beethoven Marathon June 12th at the Royal Birmingham and Sunday Classics at the Spotted Dog on June 17th.

28695046_1314228572010676_982958423_oTo find out more about each member’s individual music journey, head over to our Instagram page @Dunevquartet, where you’ll find our interview sessions. We are also on Facebook so be sure to follow our page for the latest news, concert info and general shenanigans of the quartet. Our website is on its way and will be launching in June so in the meantime, for any enquiries for gigs and events, send us a message on facebook, direct message on Instagram or email mail@dunevquartet.com

 

 

 

 

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Birmingham Conservatoire

Sunday’s stunning concert was particularly significant not only for the conservatoire but also for the Birmingham music scene. The Adrian Boult Hall has been a prominent concert venue for the last 30 years and this farewell concert was the last before its demolition to make way for developments in Birmingham’s city centre.

If you missed the original broadcast on BBC Radio 3, don’t worry, it’s still available! Click here. The full concert  is also available to listen to on youtube. I had the absolute pleasure of working with one of the finest conductors in the business: Barry Wordsworth. His positive, uplifting and encouraging attitude along with his infectiously warm personality made rehearsing a breeze and an unforgettable concert.

After the resounding success of the “Requiem for a Concert Hall” concert and a brilliant review, I began to think about Birmingham Conservatoire as an institution and how it is viewed by those in the music sphere.

Birmingham Conservatoire was founded in 1886 as the Birmingham School of Music – yes 130 years ago. This really surprised me as the conservatoire is actually only 4 years younger than the prestigious RCM (founded (1882).

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This status says it all.

 

Having been a sixth former at a specialist music school, I have to say that there seemed to be a particular emphasis on students studying music in London. When I was auditioning for conservatoires, there wasn’t much conversation about Birmingham Conservatoire or many other music colleges outside of London. I almost felt like there was a pressure to gain a place in London just to prove my worth. For me, I had a pretty realistic idea of where I wanted to study so I didn’t actually audition to RCM or RAM. Initially, it turned out that I was the only person in my year that was going to study in Birmingham whilst the majority of the year gained places in London. Similarly to the Facebook post above, comments by others made me feel like I was joining a less prestigious and sub-standard conservatoire compared to others. I feel like people were only impressed about my place at Birmingham Conservatoire when I casually mentioned that I’d been offered an unconditional  place and a substantial scholarship. This is sad because it is a great achievement alone to be entering into a conservatoire seeing as there are only 9 in the UK!

There is an attitude floating around that the only reputable conservatoires are in London. This is simply INCORRECT. Don’t get me wrong, the music colleges there are brilliant. After my BMus course,  I would love to do a postgraduate degree there but studying music in London is not the be all and end all.

Since joining in September, I have found the conservatoire to be a vibrant and friendly  atmosphere overflowing with exceptional talent from all departments. Particularly with this concert, there was a strong sense of camaraderie and solidarity amongst the students. The academic teaching in addition to the music teaching is outstanding and there is support coming from every corner. Just recently, I was taken aback at the talent at the Junior Conservatoire and the high level of teaching it provides. Also, our principal Julian Lloyd Webber has been friendly, approachable and generally present and very involved throughout the year (which has been his first year as well as mine). Birmingham Conservatoire was definitely the right place for me to be and I truly believe that I would not have made the same progress at any other institution. Furthermore, I’m happy to say that in September 2016, there will be 6 Purcellians at the Birmingham Conservatoire (all with scholarships) so I think attitudes and perceptions are changing for the better. I’m positive that the new building (opening in 2017) will be an influence factor in bringing many more young musicians to consider studying at Birmingham as their first choice rather than 2nd or 3rd.

Don’t forget there a number of notable alumni  (to name a few):

  • Mike Seal
  • Laura Mvula
  • Richard Van Allan
  • Rhydian Roberts
  • Mark Gasser

To anyone who does not have an informed opinion about the college, please listen to the concert – it is a perfect reflection of the high standard of music-making that is achieved at the Birmingham Conservatoire. The recent concert has definitely confirmed the fact  I am very proud to be a student there.

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*Cover photos of concert by Greg Milner Photography

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