Elias String Quartet: Mendelssohn Cycle #1

Return to Elias String Quartet: Mendelssohn Cycle #1 – Royal Northern College of Music 


Felix Mendelssohn String Quartet No 3 in D major Op 44 No 1
Felix Mendelssohn String Quartet No 2 in A minor Op 13

Felix Mendelssohn String Quintet No 2 in B flat major Op 87 * 

Elias String Quartet:
Sara Bitlloch, Donald Grant violin
Simone van der Geissen viola
Marie Bitlloch cello 

Alex Mitchell viola * 

The RNCM is committed to reducing its carbon footprint. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far but know we need to do more as we work to create a more sustainable world. One way we can make a huge difference is to minimise the number of printed programmes and free sheets we produce each season.

This is why we’ve decided to move away from mass produced, single use print for most of our events, offering an online programme of up-to-date information instead. Additionally, many of our concerts now include a personal introduction by members of staff and students, which gives insight into the repertoire performed as well as an opportunity to get to know our community a little more.   

Where printed programmes are still required, such as RNCM Opera performances and end of term showcases, content is thoughtfully produced using limited resources. An online option is also available for those wishing to support our mission.

We always welcome feedback from our audience members and would like to thank everyone who has supported our mission so far.


The Elias Quartet

The Elias String Quartet take their name from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah, of which Elias is its German form, and have quickly established themselves as one of the most intense and vibrant quartets of their generation. The Quartet was formed in 1998 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where they worked closely with the late Dr. Christopher Rowland. They also spent a year studying at the Hochschule in Cologne with the Alban Berg quartet. Between 2005 and 2009 they were resident String Quartet at Sheffield’s “Music in the Round” as part of Ensemble 360, taking over from the Lindsay Quartet. They are now ensemble in residence at the RNCM and regularly go back there to teach and perform.

This season they present their three-concert “Schumann series” at Wigmore Hall and elsewhere, which includes a collaboration with long term musical partner and friend Jonathan Biss, and two world premieres: a newly commissioned work by Sally Beamish, and a piece written by the winner of their composition competition at Manchester’s RNCM, alongside the three Schumann string quartets. They also return to the US with concerts in Boston, San Francisco, Vancouver and Houston.

In 2009 the Elias was chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists’ scheme and was also a recipient of a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. With the support of the Trust, the Elias Quartet mounted “The Beethoven Project”: studying and performing all of Beethoven’s string quartets as cycles whilst sharing their experience through a special website (www.thebeethovenproject.com) and social media. The project culminated with a cycle at Wigmore Hall, all six concerts recorded live for the Wigmore live label.

The Quartet is steadily building a recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim. They have recorded the Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets with Jonathan Biss, a Britten Quartets disc for Sonimage, a Mendelssohn disc for ASV Gold and most recently Schumann string quartets for Outhere. Their two mixed programme recordings for Wigmore Live were praised unanimously, the first winning a BBC Music Magazine Newcomers award. The final volume of their complete Beethoven Quartet Cycle had just been released.

Alex Mitchell

Alex Mitchell holds the positions of Principal Viola with Manchester Camerata and Joint Assistant Principal Viola at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He was awarded 5th prize at the 2015 Tokyo International Viola Competition and in 2012, 3rd prize at the Beethoven International Competion in Hradek.

​Alex began learning the violin with his Dad, Kenneth on his sixth birthday, and two years later started piano lessons with his mum, Elisabeth.

​During his seven years of study at the RNCM in Manchester, Alex learned variously with Petr Prause, Nobuko Imai, Garth Knox, Gina McCormack, Wenzhou Li and Asdis Valdimarsdottir. Whilst at the college he won numerous awards such as the ‘Helen Porthouse Paganini Prize’ where he pipped the violinists to the top prize, and the Concerto Competition, the result of which he saw him subsequently performing Martinu’s Viola Concerto with conductor Clark Rundell and the RNCM Symphony Orchestra.

Chamber music has also been a big part of Alex’s life and he was a member of the Zelkova String Quartet until 2019.

​Alex’s favourite composer is Mozart and he likes wearing odd socks. In his free time he enjoys walking in the Lake District with his wife Harriet, cooking and watching David Attenborough documentaries.