Diversity and the British String Quartet

diversity and the british string quartet logo


Primary Investigator:

Dr Joanna Bullivant

Departmental Lecturer in Historical Musicology



Prof Samantha Dieckmann

Associate Professor, Faculty of Music

Fellow of Somerville College





Lauren Braithwaite and Aaliyah Booker (Faculty of Music)


Partner organisations:

Villiers Quartet

Faculty of Music

Text reads: Supported using public funding by Arts Council England





Villiers String Quartet

St Gregory the Great Catholic School, Oxford

St Marylebone School, London 

Graveney School, London 

Framingham Earl High School, Norfolk 

Trinity Catholic School, Nottingham


About the project:

Diversity and the British String Quartet brings together composers, performers, students, and academics to explore issues of diversity in British classical music through the case study of the string quartet. The string quartet - and British classical music in general - are associated with elitism and exclusivity, yet historically the genre has attracted composers who defy this stereotype: women, BAME musicians, communists, and others from traditionally marginalised groups such as Ethel Smyth, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Elizabeth Maconchy. In this project, the Villiers Quartet and Oxford researchers will: commission and release as digital concerts new string quartets from British composers with varied connections to national identity; coach remotely 14-18 year old students from schools with low access to music education or diverse student bodies to compose their own string quartets with mentoring from Oxford students; and produce a live-streamed symposium with lectures, round-table discussion with composers, student workshops, and performances of historic British quartets.

See more information on the Symposium that was held as part of this project here


Part of the Humanities Cultural Programme, one of the founding stones for the

future Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities.