Recognised as one of Britain’s leading chamber music groups, the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet is a dynamic and innovative ensemble known for its extraordinary ensemble in performance and expansive repertoire.
The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet has performed extensively in major venues including the Wigmore Hall, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and Bridgewater Hall. Their engagements have taken them to venues throughout Europe, most recently visiting Germany, Spain, Denmark, Greece, Estonia, Poland and Ireland. The quartet has performed as part of the Last Night of the Proms and has given live broadcasts on Radio 3, Classic FM, Lyric FM and ERA 3 (Greece). In 2007 they became the only guitar quartet to have ever performed in the finals of the Royal Overseas League and Young Concert Artists Trust (YCAT) Competitions. In 2011 they were “Artist in Residence” at the Harrogate International Festival.
The ensemble made its debut in Asia in 2014 with a series of concerts in Seoul and they return to South Korea in 2016, this time to perform at the Daejeon International Guitar Festival.
The AGQ is dedicated to presenting music from around the globe, spanning the period from the renaissance right through to the present day. Many established international composers, including Carlos Rafael Rivera (U.S.A), Phillip Houghton (Australia), Stephen Dodgson (U.K) and Nikita Koshkin (Russia) have invited the quartet to perform their compositions, and the group’s recent commission “Danças Nativas”, by the Brazilian composer Clarice Assad, was nominated for a Latin Grammy® award for best classical composition in 2009. A further source of material for the AGQ’s constantly expanding repertoire is their own arrangements of music from various genres, including works by Gismonti, Mussorgsky, Rossini, and film music composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. The group is also committed to continuing their involvement in outreach and educational projects, and is regularly invited to give master classes. In addition to their recital and educational work, the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet frequently appears with orchestras, and is responsible for the re-emergence of two great concertos, Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz and Torroba’s Concierto Iberico for four guitars.
Formed originally at the Royal Northern College of Music (in 1999), under the guidance of Craig Ogden and Gordon Crosskey, the quartet went on to study with renowned guitarists such as Sérgio Assad, Oscar Ghiglia and Scott Tennant. The quartet’s ground breaking work in developing the guitar quartet medium subsequently earned them awards from the Musicians Benevolent Fund, Tillett Trust and Tunnell Trust.
The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet, recognising the responsibility artists have to impart some of their knowledge and experience to future generations, embraces every opportunity to be involved in education work. They all enjoy teaching posts in the Northwest of England and the quartet regularly gives masterclasses to guitarists and chamber musicians, ranging from enthusiastic youngsters to aspiring professionals, including students at the RNCM and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Their former association with Yehudi Menuhin’s scheme ‘Live Music Now’ has also equipped them with experience and expertise in providing educational recitals to a wide range of audiences.
In 2009 the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet was signed exclusively to Chandos Records and has since recorded 4 albums, “Dances” (released in June 2010), “Spirit of Brazil” (March 2009), “Final Cut” (June 2012) and Cuatro (Nov 2013). Both “Dances” and “Spirit of Brazil” received critical acclaim from the press. BBC Music Magazine awarded “Spirit of Brazil” five stars for both performance and recording, commenting:
“with outstanding playing and infectious spirit, this is no mere niche guitar CD, but a luscious and lively general-appeal winner”
The Aquarelle’s subsequent release, “Dances”, received excellent reviews from both Gramophone and International Record Review, the latter concluding:
“After a first hearing, I felt as if I had musically travelled all over the world and was more than ready to get back on the plane for another round-trip”
‘Final Cut’, featuring the group’s own arrangements of celebrated film themes, was chosen as Classic FM Drive’s CD of the week on its release in June 2012, was given a five stars review by Time Out Magazine and has since been given exceptional praise by Sinfini Music (Universal), International Record Review and American Record Guide:
“Every so often a CD lands on your desk, travels to the player and stays there, going round and round and round…So I’ll just hit the pause button to read the name on that shiny piece of plastic – Final Cut by the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet. Right, press play again…”
“All four guitarists have shared the arranging between them; the results are uniformly excellent, with the parts well distributed and all the coloristic resources of the guitar exploited”
“this British ensemble seems incapable of playing with less than a glorious range of sound, perfect ensemble, and exquisite taste. This is superb playing, and the music is ravishing”
Their original debut CD Promenade was released in May 2005 and Watersmeet, a collaborative CD of Stephen Dodgson’s guitar music was released on the Cadenza label in March 2006.
The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet was a Making Music ‘recommended artist’ for the season 09-10, and was invited by the Making Music Concert Promoter’s Network Committee to feature in the CPN Brochure for a second time, as one of a small selection of artists recommended to Making Music member promoters for the 12-13 season.
Sinfini Music (Universal) invited the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet to be filmed for their inaugural “Sinfini Session”; the resulting footage is featured on the Sinfini Music website.
The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet’s last CD for Chandos, “Cuatro” – A tribute to the Music of Spain, was released in November 2013 and was prominently featured in Classical Guitar Magazine. In 2016 they record a new CD, which will be launched on the Chandos label in the autumn.
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