"Our Common Wealth" | Villiers Quartet Concert

villier concert new

Part of the Humanities Cultural Programme, one of the founding stones for the
future   Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities


Tuesday 15 June 2021, 7pm

Live Event - Watch here.

Livestreamed concert live from the JdP Music Building

The Villiers Quartet explores themes of British identity and history, starting with British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Five Fantasiestücke Op. 5. Movements from John Mayer’s String Quartet No. 2 ‘Nava Rasa’ showcase the work of the Calcutta-born violinist and composer. As part of their From Home Commissions, the Villiers give the premiere of Alex Ho’s “Our Common Wealth” which explores the breakup of voices and identities within a collective. The concert ends with the Third Quartet by Elizabeth Maconchy, who wrote 13 quartets overall and became the first female Chair of the Composers’ Guild of Great Britain.

This event is part of the Diversity and British String Quartet Symposium. You can read more about the Diversity and the British String Quartet  HCP project here.


Samuel Coleridge -Taylor - Five Fantasiestücke for string quartet (1895)

John Mayer - Quartet No.2 ‘Nava Rasa’ (selected movements) (ca 1970)

Alex Ho - Our Common Wealth *From Home world premiere

Elizabeth Maconchy - String Quartet No. 3 (1938)

Villiers Quartet 

Katie Stillman, violin I

Tamaki Higashi, violin II

Carmen Flores, viola

Leo Melvin, cello


Named after Villiers Street in London, the Villiers Quartet encompasses the grand and iconic spirit of the extraordinary music tradition in Britain and has been praised for “exquisite ensemble playing” (Seen & Heard International), and their absolute “commitment and virtuosity” (The Sunday Times). The Villiers Quartet is the Quartet-in-Residence at the Jacqueline Du Pré Music Building at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University.


Hailed as “Champions of British Music” (The Observer), the Villiers Quartet has become one of the most recognised quartets in the UK for the performance of British music, releasing acclaimed recordings of works by Elgar, Delius, Peter Racine Fricker, William Sterndale Bennett, David Matthews, William Alwyn and Kuljit Bhamra, MBE. In 2020 they gave the world premiere of the complete 1888 Delius string quartet, featuring movements in their original versions uncovered by Professor Daniel Grimley from Oxford University.


In 2020 the Villiers Quartet initiated new digitally-based projects including VQ Discovery: Beethoven Discovery, an online course to study Beethoven’s quartets in-depth whilst in lockdown; #VQCreate, mentoring secondary school students online to compose new music for string quartet; and From Home: VQ Commissions, commissioning new works from diverse British composers to celebrate the VQ’s 10th Anniversary season for 2021. These works will be premiered at the Oxford Symposium led by Dr. Joanna Bullivant and Prof. Samantha Dieckmann, “Diversity and the British String Quartet”.

The Villiers Quartet has been broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from the Leamington International Quartet Series, and on NPO Radio 4 live from the Concertgebouw. The VQ has been featured on BBC’s  In Tune and also BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show with pianist Alexis Ffrench and double bassist Leon Bosch. The VQ was the featured quartet on the score to the BBC film Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The VQ presented masterclasses in the UK and abroad at Oxford University, Duke University, Dartmouth College, University of Nottingham, Syracuse University, Cal State LA, Jacksonville University, and Indiana University South Bend. ambassadors for British chamber music, the VQ has given premieres and performances of music by British composers including Anthony Payne, Alexander Goehr, Martyn Harry, David Matthews, and Elizabeth Kelly

The broad curiosity of the Villiers Quartet and its passion for teaching and performing have made the VQ a valuable resource for students and audiences alike. Inspiration comes from the heart of the Villiers Quartet’s philosophy: to believe in the art of string quartet.


This project has been generously supported by the Oxford Humanities Cultural Programme, Arts Council England, the RVW Trust, The David Willets Fund for Teaching Innovation, and supporters of the Villiers Quartet’s From Home Commissions Fund.


Find out more about the full Diversity and the British String Quartet Symposium programme here.


photo credit: Charles Gervais