The Hans Keller String Quartet in Residence

at the University of Oxford

University of Oxford

Part of the Hans Keller String Quartet Project

Hans Keller with score and viola, by Milein Cosman
Hans Keller with score and viola, by Milein Cosman

The Cosman Keller Art & Music Trust is delighted to be supporting the Castalian String Quartet in a new residency at the University of Oxford, established in October 2021 in memory of Hans Keller.

The Quartet is integrating a diverse range of creative projects with an annual concert series, taking place across the academic year and featuring masterpieces from the string quartet canon alongside works of new and marginalised composers.

Programming feeds into education and outreach initiatives, offering stimulating material for school workshops and interdisciplinary explorations. The Quartet aspires to develop the chamber musicians and composers of tomorrow through masterclasses, private lessons, and on-stage and off-stage collaborations.  The Quartet’s projects will also contribute to the academic work of the Faculty of Music, through pre-concert talks and public seminars covering topics relating to the work of Oxford academics, including Laura Tunbridge’s Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, A Social and Sonic History of the String Quartet. The work of Hans Keller is also being featured, starting with a performance of Keller’s analysis of Haydn’s Op.76 No.2 during the Quartet’s opening visit.

Book tickets for public events HERE
The Castalian String Quartet L-R: Daniel Roberts, Sini Simonen, Ruth Gibson and Steffan Morris (photo: Paul Marc Mitchell)
The Castalian String Quartet
L-R: Daniel Roberts, Sini Simonen, Ruth Gibson and Steffan Morris (photo: Paul Marc Mitchell)

Named 2019 Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist of the Year, the Castalian String Quartet’s recent and forthcoming highlights include debut invitations to Carnegie Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, Paris Philharmonie, Auditorium du Louvre, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Lucerne Chamber Music Society, Brussels Flagey, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Saffron Hall, and the Aldeburgh, East Neuk, Spoleto, North Norfolk, Heidelberg Spring, Rheingau, Mosel, and Dresden festivals.

Formed in 2011, the Castalian String Quartet studied with Oliver Wille of the Kuss Quartet at the Hannover Hochschule für Musik, soon winning 1st Prize at the 2015 Lyon Chamber Music Competition and 3rd Prize at the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition.

Their influential teachers to date include Simon Rowland-Jones, David Waterman, and Isabel Charisius. In 2016, the Quartet were selected by the Young Classical Artists Trust, and more recently were named recipients of the inaugural Merito String Quartet Award/Valentin Erben Prize and a 2018 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship.

In only a few seasons, the Quartet have made critically-acclaimed debuts at New York’s Lincoln Center, Banff International String Quartet Festival, the Vancouver Recital Series, Montreal’s Salle Bourgie, and The Philips Collection in Washington D.C. Other highlights include performances at the Hamburg Chamber Music Series, International Musikfest Goslar, Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker, and the Bath, Cheltenham, North Norfolk, Peasmarsh, and Winchester festivals. They were also the resident ensemble at the Esbjerg International Chamber Music Festival in Denmark. Their many notable collaborators have included Aleksander Madzar, Alasdair Beatson, Simon Rowland-Jones, Daniel Lebhardt and Olivier Stankiewicz.

The Oxford Faculty of Music’s new Director of Musical Performance and Performance Studies Rosalind Ventris writes: ‘I have long admired the Castalian Quartet’s musicianship, energy and passion, and I’m absolutely delighted that they have been appointed as String Quartet in Residence here at Oxford. Their dedication to their craft will no doubt inspire our students and will greatly enrich musical life across the University and the wider community. Their residency will not only be in tribute to the memory of Hans Keller but will also incorporate his writings in a fascinating synthesis of performance and scholarship. We are extremely grateful to The Cosman Keller Art & Music Trust for supporting this exciting new venture.’

Drawing of Hans Keller playing in a string quartet, by Milein Cosman
Drawing of Hans Keller playing in a string quartet, by Milein Cosman

For Hans Keller, the string quartet was the most purely musical form of composition and the closest to his heart, and his contribution to its development in the second half of the twentieth century was immense. He coached many of the leading British ensembles of the time, and during his 20 years at the BBC he not only developed performance opportunities and enabled the best quartet-playing to be heard, but also did much to broaden awareness of this remarkable repertoire. Through his own broadcast talks and lectures around the country he made an outstanding contribution to the education of the audience for chamber music, and he had a unique ability to speak meaningfully both to musicians and their public at the same time. He inspired many composers to write new works for string quartet, including Benjamin Britten, who dedicated his own Third String Quartet to the man who, he said, ‘knows more about the string quartet, and understands it better, than anybody alive.’

The Cosman Keller Art & Music Trust is delighted to be able to support this exciting new partnership between the University of Oxford and one of the best young string quartets in the world. Many of the residency activities will be open to the public, with the aim of building and engaging a new and diverse audience for the composers and players of the future, as Hans Keller himself did so effectively in the past.