The Hans Keller Forum

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Part of the Hans Keller String Quartet Project

As part of its Hans Keller String Quartet Project, the Trust began a new partnership with ChamberStudio in 2022 : the Hans Keller Forum.

From the 1950s to the 1980s, Hans Keller was a highly sought-after chamber music teacher, who coached many of the leading string quartets of the age. Having ‘grown up inside the string quartet’, as he put it, in pre-war Vienna, he considered chamber music to be the most important form of music-making — in which composers address themselves primarily to fellow musicians, and players can be at their most individually creative.

Founded by the violinist Richard Ireland in 2010, ChamberStudio offers specialised coaching and support to emerging professional chamber ensembles. Through mentorships, residencies and masterclasses, ChamberStudio provides individually-tailored support to chamber musicians as they establish their careers.

Drawing of Hans Keller coaching a string quartet, by Milein Cosman
Drawing of Hans Keller coaching a string quartet, by Milein Cosman

The Hans Keller Forum is designed to extend that support back to chamber musicians while they are still in education. Life for string players in conservatoires can be very hectic, and since they are frequently required for a great deal of orchestral playing it can be hard to focus on chamber music. Yet these are the years when most ensembles are formed, need to grow together, and to make the most of the opportunities available at college.

The Hans Keller Forum offers selected student ensembles the chance to spend a few days before each term developing their chamber skills and knowledge, in a residential setting in Cambridge under the guidance of expert mentors. Students stay in the peaceful setting of Clare College and rehearse in the Music Faculty’s West Road Concert Hall building a few minutes’ walk away. Each ensemble selected will remain part of the scheme for a whole year, to benefit from the community and mutual support and learning that will build up over repeated residential stays together.

Mentors for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 years are Richard Ireland, ChamberStudio’s Artistic Director, John Myerscough, cellist of the Doric Quartet, and the pianist Alasdair Beatson.

Ensembles participating in the 2023-24 year are the Quartet Concrète, the Trio Havisham, the Lark Trio and the Talland Quartet:

Ensembles participating in the 2022-23 year were the Aestus Quartet, the Astatine Trio, the Hirvi Quartet and the Kyan Quartet:

The Hans Keller Forum regularly features masterclasses open to the public, as well as a public lecture series.

The Forum is also privileged to have an Artist in Residence. Hans Keller himself was married to the artist Milein Cosman, who was famous for her drawings of musicians (now held in the Royal College of Music Museum).  Artist in Residence for the 2022-23 year was Hannah Uzor.

Cambridge University is also home to the Hans Keller Archive, curated by Susi Woodhouse, who is a regular visitor to the Hans Keller Forum, introducing participating ensembles to Keller’s ideas. Susi’s blog regularly features reports from the Hans Keller Forum.