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Gildas Quartet: Britten in Surround Sound

Surround Sound Sessions is the Gildas Quartet’s award-winning new performance format. In this hour-long concert the audience is invited into the centre of the string quartet, hearing the music from a new perspective.

Determined to bring the visceral experience of string quartet performance to audiences at close quarters, the Gildas Quartet created their immersive project ‘Surround Sound Sessions’. Each performance in this series brings a single great quartet work to listeners, inviting them to sit literally in ‘surround sound’ and experience the drama from the centre of the ensemble. In May 2020, the Gildas Quartet received an award from the Help Musicians UK Do It Differently Fund, which supported the continuation of their Surround Sound Sessions remotely, under the dramatically different circumstances brought about by the pandemic. The project grew further with the commission of new works specially designed to be recorded in isolation, which exploit binaural panning techniques to allow the four instrumental lines to surround (and move around) the listener.

Equally passionate about new music and works from the quartet canon, the Gildas Quartet has collaborated with many eminent British composers. The quartet has been privileged to work with Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Colin Matthews and Michael Finnissy, and commissioned Philip Cashian’s String Quartet No. 2, which was given its premiere by the quartet at the St Magnus Festival in Orkney. The quartet’s recording of two works by Cheryl Frances-Hoad has been released to critical acclaim on the Champs Hill label.

You will hear the music of Purcell that inspired Britten followed by an exploration of his 2nd Quartet, with the quartet deconstructing and demonstrating aspects of the music. A complete memorised performance of the Britten ends the concert, with the audience surrounding the quartet.

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