Aquarelle Guitar Quartet
About Aquarelle Guitar Quartet
Britain's Aquarelle Guitar Quartet has been among the preeminent guitar chamber groups since the genre began to undergo a revival in the early 21st century. The quartet performs and records music from the Renaissance to contemporary music.
The quartet was formed in 1999 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. Its members are Michael Baker, Vasilis Bessas, James Jervis, and Rory Russell. Each member studied guitar at the College, under Craig Ogden and Gordon Crosskey, and after establishing themselves as a quartet, the group went on for further ensemble instruction with veteran artists, including guitarist/composer Sérgio Assad. In its early years, the quartet was supported by awards from the Musicians Benevolent Fund, Tillett Trust, and the Tunnell Trust. The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet has met with critical acclaim and has performed at major British concert halls including Wigmore Hall, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and Bridgewater Hall. The group has toured throughout Europe and in 2014 made its Asian debut with concerts in Seoul; it returned to South Korea for an appearance at the Daejon International Guitar Festival two years later. At home, a major milestone was an appearance at the Royal Albert Hall with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in a Classic FM Live concert where the ensemble shared the stage with violinist Maxim Vengerov, composer/conductor Debbie Wiseman, soprano Laura Wright, and keyboardist Wayne Marshall.
The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet has often championed contemporary music, performing new works by Carlos Rafael Rivera, Phillip Houghton, and Stephen Dodgson, among others. From Sergio Assad's sister Clarice Assad, the quartet commissioned the work Danças Nativas, which earned a Latin Grammy award for best classical composition in 2009. The group performs music from the Renaissance to the present day and actively arranges music from other media, including compositions by Mussorgsky, Rossini, and film music composer Ryuichi Sakamoto in its repertory. All four musicians teach at universities in northern England and are active in a variety of educational efforts. The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet has recorded frequently for the Chandos label, issuing thematic albums such as Spirit of Brazil (2009). In 2019, the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet issued the album Voyage Central Park on Chandos. ~ James Manheim