The Smith Quartet
Ian Humphries Violin
Darragh Morgan Violin
Nic Pendlebury Viola
Deirdre Cooper Violoncello
Since its formation in 1988, The Smith Quartet has been closely associated with the performance of Steve Reich’s music. None more so than with his haunting work Different Trains which they have performed all over the world, not only on the concert platform but with the renowned Siobhan Davies Dance Company, and as part of the BBC’s specially commissioned Holocaust – A Musical Memorial Film from Auschwitz, which marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp.
As well as the works of Steve Reich, the quartet is dedicated to the development and performance of new music and has built a repertoire by some of the world’s most exciting composers, establishing an international reputation for their dynamic style and original approach to contemporary music. Kevin Volans, Michael Nyman, Graham Fitkin, Django Bates, Stephen Montague, Karl Jenkins, Sally Beamish, Michael Daugherty, Howard Skempton and Michael Finnissy are amongst many whom have written for them. To date they have premiered over 100 new works.
It is the aim of the quartet to bring contemporary music to as wide an audience as possible. They have expanded the potential of the “string quartet” to its fullest, not only by using amplification and live electronics in many of their concerts, but also in their work with dance companies such as Shobana Jeyasingh, Siobhan Davies and Ultima Vez and artists of other musical genres. Saxophonists John Harle and Gerard McChrystal, guitarists David Tanenbaum and Tim Brady, jazz musicians Andy Sheppard and John Taylor have all worked with the group. Of particular note has been the quartet’s relationship with the jazz artist Django Bates, which has produced the effervescent quartet, Pond Life (1993), a film for Britain’s Channel 4 TV and the critically acclaimed album you live and learn… apparently with Bates’ own group Human Chain. The quartet has also featured in the Barbican’s American Pioneers series alongside Britpop superheroes Pulp in a sell out performance of Terry Riley’s In C, with the composer at the piano.
The quartet’s long standing partnership with their sound designers SoundIntermedia has also enabled them to take performances to unusual spaces and venues including The Music Summit Metropolis Cologne where they played Different Trains suspended above the tracks of Cologne’s Haupt Bahn Hoff.