Barbican String Quartet

The Society warmly welcomes the Barbican String Quartet, winners of the 2018 RPS Albert and Eugenie Frost Prize.

The Barbican Quartet was founded at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama by violinists Amarins Wierdsma and Tim Crawford, violist Christoph Slenczka and cellist Yoanna Prodanova. They won the 2018 St Martin’s Chamber Music Competition and made their Wigmore Hall debut in 2017 thanks to the Maisie Lewis Award.

Based in London, the Quartet currently studies with members of the Belcea Quartet here in the UK and with Günter Pichler at the Reina Sofia String Quartet Academy in Madrid.

Read on to find out what inspires them and what they enjoy doing both in and out of quartet mode:

  • What brought you together as an ensemble?

Christoph: We were put into a group by one of our first chamber music teachers at Guildhall. We've been very lucky to have great teachers we could trust from the very beginning. They've been an invaluable source of inspiration, helping us discover how each of our four unique characters can work together.

Amarins: Also we’re all pretty crazy - who else would want to play with us?! Ultimately we're friends, but sometimes we fight and it can be hard to leave the rehearsal behind in the rehearsal room. We're getting better at it though!

  • Tell us three things your ensemble can't imagine living without.

Tim: I think all of us are pretty dependent on either tea or coffee to get us through rehearsals. We just have to be careful with how much our violist consumes, he’s easily over stimulated.

Amarins: We have decided Christoph is not allowed any more before rehearsals. We love the Italian coffee place outside the Reina Sofia in Madrid. That aside, we definitely can't imagine living without our instruments, of course.

Tim: Skyscanner for flight booking and IMSLP for its trove of sheet music have to go on the list too.

  • What are you working on at the moment?

Christoph: We are in a phase of learning lots of new repertoire for the coming year. This is always a very exciting process, as we find each piece we learn is a musical treasure. Every composer has given his or her best to the string quartet genre, and so we have much to look forward to.

  • What has been your most inspiring experience?

Yoanna: Studying in Madrid with Günter Pichler. He's one of the best quartet players in history who has gone through the same journey as us and therefore has invaluable advice to offer. Every lesson is hugely inspiring, and his insight into quartet playing is precious. We work on a piece of music intensively for one week, under his guidance. His support throughout the process is incredible: he listens to concert recordings with us and challenges us to be our most demanding critics.

  • What music gets you up in the morning?

Yoanna: I can imagine Tim listening to some obscure Biber. Christoph is probably somewhere head-banging to Mozart. Amarins is notorious for listening to bad pop music in the morning, and I'm a huge Pink Floyd fan. Something that we are absolutely unanimously in love with is Late Romantic and 20th Century quartet repertoire.

  • Tell us one strange fact about each of your members.

Tim: Amarins’ mood is directly correlated to how much attention her morning run selfies receive on social media. The harder Christoph finds something, the better he’ll play it. The harder Yoanna partied the previous night, the better she’ll play. As for myself, I’m afraid I’m completely normal.

Amarins: Yoanna only watches VERY good movies. Tim one time almost vomited on the Queen of Spain. And I’m the only normal one.

Yoanna: Amarins has shown us hours of home videos from her childhood. Tim has a skeleton in his shed. Christoph learnt Italian for his girlfriend! I am obsessed with the sea and always like to know exactly how far away the beach is - the closer the better.

  • If you didn’t play in an ensemble what else would you be doing?

Tim: I dream of becoming a consultant for sheet music editors to create editions that are both true to the score and also have workable page turns and foldouts.

Amarins: I'm realising now that I would have loved to study a language or psychology. Maybe one day I'll take some classes but meanwhile I try to learn a little bit of the language wherever we go.

(Photo: Gabriel M Isserlis)


If you'd like to find out more about the Barbican String Quartet, visit their website or follow them on social media:
Twitter: @BarbicanQ

You can download their full biography by clicking the link below.

Each year, the RPS supports outstanding emerging artists and ensembles like the Barbican String Quartet to develop artistically and professionally. If you would like to get in touch with the quartet, with a query or possibly opportunity for them, please contact us by email or phone on 020 7287 0019.