Robert Plane – Clarinet
Robert Plane won the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition in London in 1992 and has since enjoyed a career encompassing solo and chamber work, as well as holding the principal clarinet positions of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
He is a successful recording artist and is particularly highly regarded for his solo recordings for Naxos. His account of Finzi’s Clarinet Concerto won Classic CD Magazine’s ‘Best Concerto Recording’ Award and was selected as BBC Radio 3’s recommended version in ‘Building a Library’, whilst his recording of Bax Sonatas was shortlisted for a Gramophone Award. His recording of Messiaen’s ‘Quartet for the End of Time’ with the Gould Trio was praised by BBC Music Magazine as the ‘best modern account’ of this monumental work.
Robert has played concertos with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Dortmund Philharmonic, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra and the Scottish Ensemble in concert halls across Europe, from Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional and the Zurich Tonhalle to London’s Barbican and the Royal Albert Hall. He toured China as soloist with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, including a performance at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, broadcast live to a TV audience of 6 million. He made his BBC Proms debut in 2011 in Simon Holt’s double concerto ‘Centauromachy’ and in 2013 made his US concerto debut with the Virginia Symphony. He has given premiere performances of concertos by Piers Hellawell, Diana Burrell and Nicola LeFanu.
Robert’s chamber music collaborations have included quintets with a number of well-known string quartets (Maggini, Auer, Brodsky, Mandelring, Vellinger, Tippett, Carducci, Finzi, Cavaleri and Dante) as well as with the chamber ensemble of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the Ibis Ensemble in Trinidad. He has collaborated with the pianist Sophia Rahman for over 20 years and highlights of their concerts together include tours to South America, New Zealand and China. Together with the Gould Piano Trio he directs the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival in Northumberland.
Robert teaches at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and has given masterclasses around the world, including at both the Royal Academy and Royal College of Music in London, the Central Conservatory in Beijing and at the San Francisco Conservatory.
Elias String Quartet
Sara Bitlloch, Donald Grant – Violins, Simone van der Giessen – Viola, Marie Bitlloch – Cello
The Elias String Quartet take their name from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah, of which Elias is its German form, and have quickly established themselves as one of the most intense and vibrant quartets of their generation. The Quartet was formed in 1998 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where they worked closely with the late Dr. Christopher Rowland. They also spent a year studying at the Hochschule in Cologne with the Alban Berg quartet. Between 2005 and 2009 they were resident String Quartet at Sheffield’s “Music in the Round” as part of Ensemble 360, taking over from the Lindsay Quartet. They are now ensemble in residence at the RNCM and regularly go back there to teach and perform.
This season they present their three-concert “Schumann series” at Wigmore Hall and elsewhere, which includes a collaboration with long term musical partner and friend Jonathan Biss, and two world premieres: a newly commissioned work by Sally Beamish, and a piece written by the winner of their composition competition at Manchester’s RNCM, alongside the three Schumann string quartets.
They also return to the US with concerts in Boston, San Francisco, Vancouver and Houston.
In 2009 the Elias was chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists’ scheme and was also a recipient of a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. With the support of the Trust, the Elias Quartet mounted “The Beethoven Project”: studying and performing all of Beethoven’s string quartets as cycles whilst sharing their experience through a special website (www.thebeethovenproject.com) and social media. The project culminated with a cycle at Wigmore Hall, all six concerts recorded live for the Wigmore live label.
The Quartet is steadily building a recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim. They have recorded the Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets with Jonathan Biss, a Britten Quartets disc for Sonimage, a Mendelssohn disc for ASV Gold and most recently Schumann string quartets for Outhere. Their two mixed programme recordings for Wigmore Live were praised unanimously, the first winning a BBC Music Magazine Newcomers award. The final volume of their complete Beethoven Quartet Cycle had just been released.