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.


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.


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.




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







Kaplan Vivo – D’Addario Review


For string players at Birmingham Conservatoire, there is a weekly workshop where there are various types of musical presentations and discussions related to stringed instruments. In February of this year, two representatives from D’Addario orchestral (Tom and Lyris) did a presentation and talk about strings. In addition to delivering important information about what strings are actually made of and how they are made, they offered the chance to try a set of strings for free! I was generously sent two sets of strings: Kaplan Amo And Kaplan Vivo. Having only ever played on Thomastik Dominant and Pirastro’s Evah Pirazzi, I was so excited to try a set of new strings. As a student, my budget is often tight so I was really grateful to receive some strings as they can be quite costly – thank you very much D’Addario!

 The Kaplan Vivo set were the strings that I thought would be fitting for the violin that I’m using at the moment. In the coming months, I’ll be trying the Amo set on my other instrument. In this post, I’ll be frankly and honestly reviewing this sets of strings without bias.

So, D’Addario says:

“Kaplan Vivo delivers brilliance, clarity, and a robust feel for darker instruments…sets settle quickly, exhibiting a rich tonal color palette and superb bow response”.

  • Kaplan Vivo delivers brilliance, clarity, and a robust feel for darker instruments
  • Synthetic core produces a rich, powerful tone
  • Short break-in time and excellent bow response provides superb playability

For a more detailed string spec click here.

I have to say that I completely agree with everything that D’Addario claims about the strings.DSC_2235_Fotor.jpg

Firstly, I found that I could play on them practically straight away and therefore they didn’t take long to play in.  As a first impression immediately after putting the strings on, I really felt that the strings were loud, very powerful and offered excellent projection. This aspect was great for me because they really jolted me into playing louder. At times, I can be a tentative player so the strings gave me scope to explore playing with more confidence and take ownership of such a big sound. However, the powerful projection  doesn’t impede on the tone quality of the strings; on my violin they have a clear, warm, rich and resonant tone particularly at the lower end. A range of characters and colours can be achieved on the G string – I’m excited about playing Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto in B minor using these strings.


DSC_1218At the time of my final recital (May 25th) I had had the strings on for around 2 months and for me, they still retained significant resonance, brilliance and clarity.
This is so important for me. Typically, I don’t change my strings for  quite a few months simply due to lack funds – #studentlife. I really appreciated this because I usually play on Evah Pirazzi and they can wear out and become dull quickly. Considering I’m a music student, I use my strings for daily practise sessions which  are around 2-5 hours (depending on my schedule). In addition, I have had various concerts and orchestral courses. I cannot stress enough the durability of these strings – they’re brilliant and show now signs of slowing down anytime soon. In my opinion, after tone, durability is a crucial factor in choosing good strings in order to get good value for money.

Aesthetically, I love the design and packaging. It is very sleek and professional looking. Each string comes in a sealed sleeve unlike other strings which come packaged in paper envelopes.  I like to save the packaging from my strings to store spares and old strings so I liked this feature. The silking at the ball ends is a black and silver pattern which compliments the black and grey packaging.

DSC_2218 In conclusion, I really like the Kaplan Vivo strings and they complimented my violin very well. These are the type of strings that I’d use for an important concert due to the brilliant sound  projection. If you use Evah Pirazzi, I’d say they are a good alternative. My only concern is the price point as online, they cost around £77 (depending on the retailer) and I usually buy my  usual set of strings for £60. Due to the sheer durability, I’m willing to pay the difference. Can’t wait to try the Kaplan Amo set on my other violin!

If you’re wanting to buy the strings check out these UK retailers:


2 Violinists 1 Day

February 2nd – the day that the violin world was doubly blessed with with two violin masters: Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) and Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987).

Both these violinists have influenced me in many ways in terms of how I want to look posture-wise when playing, the different  the styles, expression and vibrato I want to use and general musicianship. Both violinists also transcribed many famous pieces for the violin to show off the instrument and what it could do.

My first encounter with Kreisler was at around the age of 14, when my previous, previous violin teacher Dawn Price told me about Kreisler and his Viennese style and recommended that I watch some Youtube videos and get my hands on the Kreisler Collection. My eyes and ears were immediately opened to world of luscious, rich tone that Kreisler physically made and wrote in his music. I particularly love the music of the romantic and late 19th/early 20th century era of violin virtuosity and ultimate expression and Kreisler is the man who made it happen for me! I immediately wanted to play Caprice Viennois Op.2 however I started with Schon Rosmarin then progressed onto Praeludium and Allegro and Sicilienne and Rigaudon.

DSC_0534 (1)

Heifetz is a violinist that I’m still learning about and it was only when I started at the Purcell School that I really became acquainted with him. He has such a a distinctive sound and power that is what draw me to listen to him and watch Youtube videos. It was also at Purcell where we watched the film the Art of Violin Playing and the focus on Heifetz was what made me want to discover him more. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a huge George Gershwin fan so naturally I love his transcriptions of some of Gershwin’s most popular pieces i.e. An American in Paris; Five Selections from Porgy & Bess.”George Gershwin was a good friend of mine. We often played together. I asked him to write a concerto for the violin but he died before he had a chance to do it”