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Classical Music 27/03/09

Making a living from being simply a member of a string quartet would be virtually impossible. So string quartet members find themselves doing a variety of other performance work, usually either as soloists or orchestral musicians.

Belfast-born Jonathan Byers was a founding member of the Badke String Quartet in 2002 with fellow students at the Royal Academy of Music. Since then, the quartet has gone from strength to strength and in 2007 the ensemble won double awards at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition in Australia.

Jonathan, however, has several strings to his bow.

As a gigging musician he has played with the Academy of Ancient Music, The English Concert, Irish Baroque Orchestra, RTE Symphony Orchestra and Ulster Orchestra.

He specialises in baroque cello playing and I remember well an excellent recital he gave in Washington with fellow baroque enthusiast Richard Sweeney some years ago.

Jonathan and the Badke String Quartet are touring Northern Ireland next week with a mixed programme.

He says: “2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Haydn's death so we're performing one of his most amazing quartets alongside Schumann's third quartet. We're also including a favourite work of ours by Belfast-born composer Ian Wilson.

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“It's his first quartet, entitled Winter's Edge which we played in Melbourne.

“It's such an atmospheric work and we really love performing it. It's nice to have another local connection in the tour aside from myself!”

You can hear the Badke String Quartet perform in Bangor Town Hall (April 1), at the University of Ulster Magee Campus, Derry (April 2), Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre, Armagh (April 3), and Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart (April 4).

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