Shanghai Quartet a highlight of chamber music festival

Renowned local ensemble will present masterpieces of Western music in their home city.

Shanghai Quartet, a 35-year-old local chamber ensemble, will give a concert at He Luting Concert Hall on May 11, a highlight of the 5th International Chamber Music Festival of Shanghai Conservatory of Music which ends a day later.

The quartet will play Mendelssohn’s “String Quartet No. 1 in E flat major,” Beethoven’s “String Quartet No. 11 in F minor” and Franck’s “Piano Quintet in F minor” together with US pianist Thomas Hoppe.

Founded in 1983, the Shanghai Quartet has been known for its passionate musicality, impressive technique and multicultural innovations. It melds the delicacy of Eastern music with the emotional breath of the Western repertoire, allowing it to traverse musical genres from traditional Chinese folk music and Western masterpieces to cutting-edge contemporary works.

It was like dream when looking back into the past 35 years of the Shanghai Quartet, said Li Weigang, the quartet’s first violin. He said the group was founded to participate in the Portsmouth String Quartet Competition (now known as the London International String Quartet Competition) and finally won the second prize.

“There were hardly any Chinese musicians interested in chamber music at the time. Very limited professional guidance in chamber music was available for us,” said Li. “And we even felt lucky to be prized second rather than first, because the champion was expected to stage more than 50 concerts in the following year, but it was beyond of our capability with a very limited chamber repertoire at hand.”

The quartet is now one of the longest-surviving chamber ensembles in China.

“We had no idea how long we would keep the quartet in the first place, as it is so common for quartets to break up in a heated argument. Maybe it was just because my blood brother is in the quartet, too. I cannot break with him!” said Li, laughing.

Two members of the quartet have been replaced, in 1994 and 2000, but the remaining managed to maintain their consistency in style.

Also playing at the festival will be the rising young Chinese musicians of Simply Quartet on May 9 and Trio Gaspard, composed of musicians from different countries, on May 10.

The festival is also presenting one forum, five seminars and two workshops with free entrance open to the public. And a competition for string quartet and piano trio is going on until May 12.

Performances details

  • Simply Quartet and Thomas Hoppe

Date: May 9, 7:45pm

Venue: Shanghai Symphony Hall

Address: 1380 Fuxing Rd M.

Tickets: 80-180 yuan

Tel: 4008-210-522

  • Trio Gaspard

Date: May 10, 7:45pm

Venue: Shanghai Symphony Hall

Address: 1380 Fuxing Rd M.

Tickets: 80-180 yuan

Tel: 4008-210-522

  • Shanghai Quartet and Thomas Hoppe

Date: May 11, 7:45pm

Venue: He Luting Concert Hall

Address: 22 Fenyang Rd

Tickets: 80-180 yuan

Tel: 6431-8756, 6431-7227

Ti Gong

Shanghai Quartet

Ti Gong

Simply Quartet

Ti Gong

Trio Gaspard

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