Content by The Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain

East meets West as the Shanghai Quartet makes its Wigmore debut, joined by celebrated clarinettist Michael Collins. The programme includes Chinese folk songs juxtaposed with profound chamber works by Beethoven and Brahms, and a Judith Weir world première. This concert is in support of Britain's oldest musical charity, The Royal Society of Musicians.

Renowned for its passionate musicality, impressive technique, and multicultural innovations, the Shanghai Quartet has become one of the world’s foremost chamber ensembles.  Its elegant style melds the delicacy of Eastern music with the emotional breadth of Western repertoire, allowing it to traverse musical genres including traditional Chinese folk music, masterpieces of Western music and cutting-edge contemporary works.

Formed at the Shanghai Conservatory in 1983, the Quartet has worked with the world’s most distinguished artists and regularly tours the major music centers of Europe, North America, and Asia. Recent festival performances range from the International Music Festivals of Seoul and Beijing to the Festival Pablo Casals in France and the Beethoven Festival in Poland, as well as numerous concerts in all regions of North America. The Quartet has appeared at Carnegie Hall in chamber performances and with orchestra; in 2006 they gave the premiere of Takuma Itoh’s Concerto for Quartet and Orchestra in Isaac Stern Auditorium. Among innumerable collaborations with noted artists, they have performed with the Tokyo, Juilliard and Guarneri Quartets, cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell, pianists Menahem Pressler, Peter Serkin, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Yuja Wang, pipa virtuoso Wu Man and the vocal ensemble Chanticleer. The Shanghai Quartet has been a regular performer at many of North America’s leading chamber music festivals, including Maverick Concerts where they recently made their 27th consecutive annual appearance.

The Quartet has a long history of championing new music and juxtaposing traditions of Eastern and Western music.  With more than 30 commissioned works, their recent premieres include Du Yun’s Tattooed in Snow (2015), Zhao Lin’s Red Lantern (2015) for pipa and string quartet, and String Quartet No. 12, Fantasia notturna by William Bolcom (2017). The Quartet’s 30th Anniversary season in 2013 brought five new commissions; Bullycide by David Del Tredici; Fantasie by Australian composer Carl Vine; a concerto for string quartet and symphony orchestra by Jeajoon Ryu; Verge Quartet by Lei Liang and Scherzo by Robert Aldridge, commissioned by Yu Long and the Beijing Music Festival. Their 25th anniversary season featured commission works by Penderecki (String Quartet No. 3Leaves From an Unwritten Diary), Chen Yi (From the Path of Beauty), Vivian Fung, and jazz pianist Dick Hyman.  The Penderecki quartet was premiered at the composer’s 75th birthday concert in Poland, followed by numerous performances worldwide. It was featured again at the composer’s 80th Birthday celebration in 2013. Chen Yi’s From the Path of Beauty, co-commissioned with Chanticleer, premiered in San Francisco, with performances at Tanglewood and Ravinia, Beijing and Shanghai. Other important commissions and premieres include works by Bright Sheng, Lowell Lieberman, Sebastian Currier, Marc Neikrug, and Zhou Long.  The tradition continues with forthcoming works by Wang Lei and Tan Dun composed for their 35th Anniversary in 2018-19.

Michael Collins is one of the most complete musicians of his generation. With a continuing, distinguished career as a soloist, he has in recent years also become highly regarded as a conductor. Recent guest conducting and play-directing highlights have included engagements with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. From 2010 – 2018 he was the Principal Conductor of the City of London Sinfonia.

Recent highlights include a return to the Philharmonia Orchestra as conductor; performances worldwide with orchestras including Minnesota Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, the Rheinische Philharmonie, Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra and Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, and tours in South Africa, Australia (with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), Japan and Mexico (with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional). This year Michael will make his conducting debut with the English Chamber Orchestra and perform with the London Mozart Players. In July 2018 he performed at the BBC Young Musician 40th Anniversary BBC Prom. He also hosted a series of ‘Michael Collins and Friends’ concerts at LSO St Luke’s, recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3, featuring the Heath Quartet, Leonard Elschenbroich, Lawrence Power and Michael McHale.

Michael Collins has been committed to expanding the repertoire of the clarinet for many years. He has given premières of works such as John Adams’ Gnarly Buttons, Elliott Carter’s Clarinet Concerto – for which he won a Gramophone award for his recording on Deutsche Grammophon – and Brett Dean’s Ariel’s Music and Turnage’s Riffs and Refrains, which was commissioned by the Hallé Orchestra. Collins has gone on to perform Turnage’s work with the Residentie Orkest, Royal Flanders and Helsinki Philharmonics, as well as the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Collins has received the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award in 2007 in recognition of his pivotal role in premièring repertoire by some of today’s most highly regarded composers.

In great demand as a chamber musician, Collins performs regularly with the Borodin, Heath and Belcea quartets, András Schiff, Martha Argerich, Stephen Hough, Mikhail Pletnev, Lars Vogt, Joshua Bell and Steven Isserlis. His ensemble, London Winds, celebrates its thirtieth anniversary in 2018 and the group maintains a busy diary with high calibre engagements such as the BBC Proms, Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh Festival, City of London Festival, Cheltenham International Festival and Bath Mozartfest. During the 2019-20 season, he will be an Artist in Residence at the Wigmore Hall which will include concerts with Stephen Hough, the Vienna Piano Trio, Leonard Elschenbroich and Michael McHale.

Michael Collins records for Chandos, and in his prolific recording career he has covered an extraordinarily wide range of solo repertoire, which also includes releases on Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, EMI, and Sony. He is one of the world’s most recorded clarinetists, having made no fewer than nineteen discs for Chandos alone. Recent releases include a disc of Crusell Clarinet Concertos with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra; a disc of British Clarinet Concertos with the BBC Symphony Orchestra which features Collins as soloist and conductor, and two discs with pianist Michael McHale: the first of Brahms and Reinicke Clarinet Sonatas and the second of Reger Clarinet Sonatas. In 2017 he was awarded a Grammy for his disc ‘Shakespeare Songs’ with Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano (‘Best Classical Solo Vocal Album’). This season he will record a Richard Strauss disc with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, as conductor and soloist.

2019 Annual Jacqueline du Pré Charity Concert

Friday 1 February 2019 7:30PM

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
String Quartet in D Op. 20 No. 4

Tie-Shan Liu/Mao Yuan
Yao Dance (arr. Yi-Wen Jiang for string quartet)

Shepherd’s Song (arr. Han-Kun Sha)
(arr. Yi-Wen Jiang for string quartet)

Jing-Ping Zhang
Harvest Celebration (arr. Yi-Wen Jiang for string quartet)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
String Quartet in F minor Op. 95 ‘Serioso’

Judith Weir (b.1954)
March (world première)

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Clarinet Quintet in B minor Op. 115

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