Winner of the 2014 Royal Overseas League Ensemble Competition, the Solem Quartet was formed in 2011 at the University of Manchester. The quartet takes its name from the university’s motto “arduus ad solem”, meaning “striving towards the sun”.
The quartet enjoys a busy concert schedule performing at venues both across the UK – including Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Bridgewater Hall and Holywell Music Room – and internationally. In keeping with its name, the Solem Quartet’s first project was to play the Haydn Op. 20 “Sun” Quartets. Their repertoire is now extensive, spanning the period from early Haydn to living composers such as Emily Howard, whose quartet ‘Afference’ they recently performed in a BBC Proms Extra broadcast, live on BBC Radio 3.
The Solem Quartet has benefited from inspirational teaching from a number of the world’s greatest chamber musicians including Gábor Takács-Nagy, Miguel da Silva, Peter Cropper, Thomas Riebl and Hatto Beyerle. They have attended the European Chamber Music Academy and the National Youth String Quartet Academy as well as courses with the Chilingirian, Dante and Maggini Quartets, and in January 2015 they undertook a two-week chamber music residency with Simon Rowland-Jones in Aldeburgh. The quartet were delighted to have been selected for the prestigious ChamberStudio Mentorship 2014/2015, which allowed them to study intensively with the internationally renowned cellist Christoph Richter at Kings Place.
L to R:
Alistair Vennart, Amy Tress, Stephanie Tress, William Newell
The Solem Quartet has recorded two CDs of 20th Century British music for Divine Arts record company. They were 2016/17 Park Lane Group Artists and have given recitals at Kings Place, St John’s Smith Square and St Martin-in-the-fields as part of the PLG recital series. They were also selected as Tunnell Trust Artists in 2016 – leading to a tour of Scotland in 2018 – and recently completed the Junior Fellowship in Chamber Music at the RNCM. They held this position (generously supported by the Albert and Eugenie Frost Music Trust) from 2015-17, giving regular coaching to chamber ensembles as well as a series of concerts. Solem also enjoys working with Live Music Now, giving concerts and workshops in a number of special needs schools around Manchester.
Since September 2016 the Solem Quartet has been ‘Quartet in Residence’ at the University of Liverpool. They were also recently appointed ‘Ensemble in Residence’ at Aberystwyth MusicFest. The quartet is particularly excited to have been privately commissioned to undertake a complete Beethoven cycle, which will start in 2020 and take place in London and Aberystwyth over a five year period.
Violinist Amy Tress enjoys a busy career around the UK and abroad as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. Winner of numerous awards including Oxford University’s Gibbs Prize for the highest 1st class Music degree and the Royal College of Music Violin Competition & Unaccompanied Bach Prize, in recent years Amy has regularly appeared at major concert venues across the UK such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall.
As well as the Solem Quartet, Amy is violinist of the Lipatti Piano Quartet, winners of the Elias Fawcett Trust Award for an Outstanding Chamber Ensemble at the finals of the Royal Overseas League Competition 2016. They were selected as Park Lane Group Artists 2015-16 and performed on the final night of the PLG’s 60th Anniversary season 2016. In 2017 their performances include recitals at Wigmore Hall and St Martin in the Fields, London. Amy is also a member of 12 ensemble, London’s unconducted string orchestra, whose debut album “Autumn Songs” was released earlier this year. Amy's performances with orchestra include the concertos of Shostakovich, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Korngold, Schnittke (Concerto Grosso) and the Bach Double, as well as Ravel’s Tzigane, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherezade and Sibelius’s Humoresques. Having studied Music at Christ Church, Oxford, Amy went on to complete a Masters and Artist Diploma at the Royal College of Music, with Professor Maciej Rakowski. Subsequently she won a place at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, Italy, to undertake a Corso di Perfezionamento with Professor Pavel Vernikov.
Amy has participated in many solo and chamber music festivals, including IMS Prussia Cove, Mendelssohn-on-Mull Festival and Academie Internationale de Maurice Ravel. Since August 2014 Amy has directed her own course, La Mariette Junior Masterclasses in France, where she teaches violin and chamber music.
London-based violinist William Newell has recently graduated with Distinction from his Master’s degree at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he studied with Krysia Osostowicz and Alexander Janiczek. He has performed in masterclasses with András Keller, the Takacs Quartet and Levon Chilingirian. At the Guildhall School, he performed John Adams' Chamber Symphony in the presence of the composer in the Barbican Hall, was recipient of the St James' Piccadilly prize in 2015 and the Sherriff's Prize for Music upon graduating in 2017
Aside from the Solem Quartet, William is second violin of Ensemble Nova Luce. Future plans include a CD recording and performances across the UK. As an orchestral musician at the Guildhall School, he performed side-by-side with the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev and Sir Simon Rattle.
Originally from Romford in Essex, William enjoys performing a wide range of music. He is a member of the Mead Men, a sea shanty group, and has appeared alongside Bring Me The Horizon and Alter Bridge at the Royal Albert Hall; performed in televised performances with Eminem, Clean Bandit, We Are The Ocean and Deacon Blue; and recorded for Phoria, Eliza and the Bear, Goldsmoke, and Slowlights. His violin and viola playing was featured on the 2016 Channel 4 series Flowers.
Alistair is from Northumberland and started playing the Viola when he was 9 years old. He graduated from the University of Manchester in 2011 gaining several prizes including the Keith Elcombe Award for highest overall performance, and then went on to postgraduate study at the RNCM with generous support from the Seary Charitable Trust, the Headley Trust and the RNCM Friends. He was awarded the Thomas Barratt Memorial Prize for Viola in July 2013.
Alistair studied with Dr Louise Lansdown for 4 years at Manchester University and the RNCM, and with Contemporary Specialist Garth Knox from 2013-14. He has had lessons and masterclasses with some of the world's greatest Violists including Thomas Reibl, Nobuku Imai, Maxim Rysanov, Roland Glassl, Tatjana Masurenko, Simon Rowland-Jones, Adam Romer and Susie Meszaros. Alistair works professionally with the Hallé, Sinfonia Cymru, Northern Chamber Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and the Royal Northern Sinfonia, and is currently on trial for a co-principal position with the Orchestra of Opera North. He has appeared as a soloist in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the UK, including performing Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with Manchester University Symphony Orchestra and Bach Brandenburg Concerto no. 6 with the Talich Quartet’s Vladimir Bukac. Alistair is in demand as a versatile performer, playing a wide variety of musical genres, and as a tutor in Violin, Viola and Chamber Music, working for organisations such as Junior RNCM, Pro Corda and Yorkshire Young Musicians. He also has a side-profession in composition and arrangement, writing new music commissions for the Solem Quartet and fiddle trio ‘Y Singhs’, as well as creating new arrangements of existing music, notably for the BBC documentary ‘Dancing Cheek to Cheek: An Intimate History of Dance’.
Steph graduated from the Joint Course at the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music in 2013 and 2014 respectively. She received a First Class degree from both institutions and a number of prizes, most notably winning the Sir John Barbirolli Cello Prize (2013). Prior to that she studied at the HfK in Bremen, Germany, with Alexander Baillie. While at school, Steph studied with Michal Kaznowski at the RCM Junior Department.
As a soloist she has performed a number of concertos with orchestras around the UK, and as an orchestral extra she has played with the Halle, BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata and Opera North. She is also the cellist of the contemporary music group House of Bedlam, with whom she has given workshops and courses and performed in Manchester, Liverpool, London and Aldeburgh.