Corwin Chair Series: Villiers Quartet

Event Date: 

Sunday, March 10, 2019 - 4:00pm

Event Date Details: 

Event Location: 

  • Karl Geiringer Hall (UCSB)

Event Price: 


Event Contact: 

Adriane Hill
Marketing and Communications Manager
UC Santa Barbara Department of Music
(805) 893-3230
Villiers Quartet
As part of the Corwin Chair Series, the Villiers Quartet will present a concert of works by UCSB Professor Emeritus Peter Racine Fricker and Thea Musgrave on Sunday, March 10, 2019 at 4 pm in Karl Geiringer Hall. This event is cosponsored by the Department of Music and the College of Creative Studies.

About the Artists

Named after Villiers Street in London's colourful musical epicentre, the Villiers Quartet encompasses the grand and iconic spirit of the extraordinary music tradition in London.
Hailed as one of the most charismatic and "adventurous" quartets of the European chamber music scene (The Strad), the Villiers Quartet has developed an international reputation for its performances of British music. Championing music which reflects Britain's rich musical heritage, the Villiers Quartet (VQ) has performed works by Elgar, Britten, Delius, William Sterndale Bennett, Robert Saxton, Kuljit Bhamra, MBE, and Frank Bridge. The VQ has been praised for its "exquisite ensemble playing" (Seen & Heard International), and its performances have been hailed as "masterful" (Classical Source).
The Villiers Quartet has been featured in numerous festivals including the North York Moors Chamber Music Festival, the Brit Jazz Fest, the Hungerford Arts Festival, and the British Music Society.
The VQ's internationally acclaimed VQ New Works Competition encourages audiences to interact with contemporary music performance online, and supports the creation of new works for string quartet. The Competition ran in 2012, 2014 and 2016. The winning compositions will be released digitally on the VQ’s own label imprint in 2017.
The Villiers Quartet is winner of the 2015 Radcliffe Chamber Music Competition, and holds the position of Quartet-in-Residence at Oxford University's Faculty of Music, and feature in the University Faculty of Music Concert Season.
In addition to their work at Oxford University, the VQ has presented masterclasses at Dartmouth College, the University of Nottingham, Syracuse University, Goshen College, and Indiana University South Bend. The VQ is also Quartet-in-Residence at Nottingham High School, where they direct an extensive chamber music programme for young students.
The Villiers Quartet are managed internationally through Mary Kaptein Artists (

About the Composers

Peter Racine Fricker (1920-1990) was a British composer and educator. Raised in London, Fricker attended the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Reginald Owen Morris and Ernest Bullock. After serving in the Royal Air Force in World War II, Fricker returned to composition, taking lessons with Mátyás Seiber and assisting in choral rehearsals. He became a professor of composition at the Royal College of Music, and was named the director of music at Morley College in 1952. His compositions received considerable attention in the late 1940s, notably his Wind Quintet, the String Quartet No. 1, the Symphony No. 1, and other works that drew critical praise. In 1964, Fricker was hired as a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which led to his joining the faculty in 1970.
His international distinction in his field was widely recognized. He received an honorary doctorate in music from the University of Leeds, the Freedom Award from the City of London, and the Order of Merit from the federal government of West Germany. He was made an honorary professional fellow of the University College, Cardiff; vice president of the Composers Guild of Great Britain; and ultimately, President of the Cheltenham Festival, where he was awarded the first Elgar Commission, to which his response was a major work for chorus and orchestra, Whispers at these Curtains. The University of California gave him some of its highest honors, too: a commission for a work celebrating the centenary of the University; an appointment as Faculty Research Lecturer in 1980; and in 1988 an appointment as the first holder of the Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Chair in Composition.
Thea Musgrave (b.1928), composer of over a dozen operas, began her studies in Edinburgh and in 1950 went to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. While still at the Paris Conservatoire her music began to attract attention in her native Scotland. By the mid-sixties she was a much-respected and widely-commissioned composer in the UK, conducting many of her own works. In 1970 she became Guest Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which anchored her increasing involvement with the musical life of the United States. In 1972, Musgrave moved with her husband, the violist and conductor Peter Mark, to Virginia, where he was invited to set up the Virginia Opera. From there her career as an opera composer took off, and in 1977 Scottish Opera premiered her watershed grand opera Mary, Queen of Scots. During the late sixties, early seventies, Musgrave began working on a group of works which sought to elevate the inherent drama of the concerto form, extending the conventional boundaries of instrumental performance by directing players in their physical movement around the performance space. While instruments took on a ‘character’ in doing so, such early works were by no means programmatic, and soon after were referred to by the composer as being examples of ‘dramatic-abstract’. In recent years her musical style has developed into something more lyric and immediate, but certainly no less inventive, dramatic or unique. With over 160 mature works to date for choir, orchestra, chamber ensemble and the stage, Musgrave remains a respected voice in composition, having been commissioned by some of the world’s finest companies such as the Royal Opera House, The BBC Orchestras and Choirs, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.


Villiers Quartet