About

The Solem Quartet has established itself as one of the most innovative and adventurous quartets of its generation.

Since winning the 2014 Royal Over-Seas League Ensemble Competition they have enjoyed a busy concert schedule, ranging from international tours to performances at venues such as London’s Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Halls, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and Oxford’s Holywell Music Room. Alongside this, their groundbreaking series ‘Solem Lates’ has seen the Quartet rise to prominence as leading exponents of new music, working closely with living composers in pioneering multimedia performances. In their latest ‘Solem Lates’ project they perform the live score to screenings of Yorgos Lanthimos’s 2015 film The Lobster, in collaboration with Picturehouse Cinemas.

In both their regular concerts and ‘Solem Lates’ projects, the Quartet presents daring feats of virtuosity within thoughtfully curated programmes. Building on their success in performing Bartók’s String Quartet no. 3 from memory, the 2020-2021 season will see the launch of their Bartók and Beethoven Cycle, in which they will perform all six of Bartók’s string quartets from memory alongside Beethoven’s late quartets. The Cycle will also include six brand new works, bringing their total number of commissions and premieres to sixteen.

L to R:

Alistair Vennart, Amy Tress, Stephanie Tress, William Newell

The Solem Quartet has benefited from inspirational teaching from a number of the world’s greatest chamber musicians including Gábor Takács-Nagy, Thomas Adès, Michal Kaznowski, Gerhard Schulz, Krysia Osostowicz and Richard Ireland. They have attended IMS Prussia Cove and the European Chamber Music Academy and were chosen for the 2014-15 ChamberStudio Mentorship with renowned cellist Christoph Richter. In 2016-17 they were selected as both Tunnell Trust Artists and Park Lane Group Artists.

The Quartet takes great pride in its educational work. From 2015-17 they held the Junior Fellowship in Chamber Music at the Royal Northern College of Music and since 2016 they have been Quartet in Residence at the University of Liverpool. Their immersive concerts and workshops have taken them to mainstream and special needs schools through Live Music Now and they have performed or given seminars at Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Cardiff Universities. They are also Ensemble in Residence at Aberystwyth MusicFest.

Originally formed at the University of Manchester in 2011, the Solem Quartet takes its name from the university’s motto arduus ad solem – ‘striving towards the sun’.

Biographies

Amy Tress

Violinist Amy Tress enjoys a busy career 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, Amy has regularly appeared at major concert venues across the UK such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall.

Amy’s concerto performances with orchestra have included Brahms, 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 won a scholarship for Masters and Artist Diploma at the Royal College of Music, with Professor Maciej Rakowski. Subsequently she studied with Professor Pavel Vernikov at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, Italy. Amy has participated in many solo and chamber music festivals, including IMS Prussia Cove, Wye Valley Chamber Music, Keshet Eilon in Israel, Marryat Chamber Music Festival, Mendelssohn-on-Mull Festival and Academie Internationale de Maurice Ravel. She teaches chamber music at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and violin at Eton College, Windsor. Since August 2014 Amy has directed her own course, La Mariette Junior Masterclasses in France.

Amy has participated in many solo and chamber music festivals, including IMS Prussia Cove, Wye Valley Chamber Music, Keshet Eilon in Israel, Mendelssohn-on-Mull Festival and Academie Internationale de Maurice Ravel. She teaches violin at Eton College, Windsor, and since August 2014 has directed her own course, La Mariette Junior Masterclasses in France.

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William Newell

William Newell, violinist, enjoys a varied performance career. In 2017, he completed his Master’s degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, graduating with Distinction, and received the Sheriff's Prize for Music. He studied at the Guildhall School with world-renowned chamber musicians Krysia Osostowicz and Alexander Janiczek. William has performed across the UK and Europe with orchestras and ensembles including The Hallé, Manchester Camerata, Manchester Collective, Multi-Story Orchestra, 12 ensemble and Parallax Orchestra; performed under conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Valery Ghergiev and John Adams; and played in masterclasses with András Keller, the Takacs Quartet and Levon Chilligirian.

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 performed live or recorded with artists including Eminem, Clean Bandit, Deacon Blue, Bring Me The Horizon, Alter Bridge and Goldsmoke. His violin and viola playing was featured on the Channel 4 and series Flowers (2016, 2018), and the BBC One series Ghosts (2019).

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Alistair Vennart

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’.

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Stephanie Tress

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 is a regular guest principal with Sinfonia Cymru. 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, often for Radio 3 broadcast. Recent performances have involved jumping on a trampoline while singing in Latin, eating marshmallows into a microphone while whistling, and exhibiting (limited) skill at playing the kazoo.

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