Elias String Quartet: Brahms, Respighi & Mendelssohn


Johannes Brahms String Sextet No 2 in G major Op 36 +
Ottorino Respighi Il tramonto *
Felix Mendelssohn String Octet in E flat major Op 20 ^

Members of the Treske Quartet +
Abi Hammett viola
Rob Wheatley cello

Sophie Clarke mezzo-soprano *

Elmore String Quartet ^
Xander Croft, Pijus Jonusas 
Inis Oirr Asano viola
Felix Hughes cello

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

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 String 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.

The Treske Quartet

The Treske Quartet was formed in 2017 for a chamber music course in North Yorkshire, and still play an active role in delivering high quality chamber music in the area. Over the past two years the quartet have given recitals in the UK and abroad, notably the Rydale Festival, Llandeilo International Music Festival, Buxton Recital Series and the New Generation Festival.

The Quartet’s members consist of Oliver Baily, Mollie Wrafter Abigail Hammett and Rob Wheatley, who all studied at the Royal Northern College of Music. Collectively the members have amassed a wealth of experience as soloists, orchestral and chamber musicians, and as freelancers they regularly appear with professional ensembles and orchestras across the British Isles. They recently collaborated with the Radius Opera Company, performing Tim Benjamin’s new opera “The Fire of Olympus” in venues across the North of England. In the summer of 2022, the quartet were invited to Alberta, Canada to participate on the Quartet:Evolution course at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. There they worked with the world renowned ‘JACK’, ‘Parker’, and ‘Eybler’ string quartets and Puerto Rican composer Gabriel Bouche, performing his piece ‘La Candela’ in recital.

Sophie Clarke

Sophie Clarke is a Mezzo-Soprano, Actor and Dancer from Liverpool. She has been awarded the Hargreaves and Ball Scholarship to study for a Masters of Music in Classical Singing and Opera at The Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of Yvonne Howard and Louise Winter. She is also kindly sponsored by Mr Peter Snook. 

Sophie won the Patricia Routledge National English Song Competition 2022 and subsequently was invited to perform as part of the London Song Festival for the 2022 season. Performance highlights in recent years include the Alto Soloist in Handel’s ‘Messiah’ at Nottingham’s Albert Hall and the Mezzo-Soprano Soloist in the latest London performance of Bernstein’s ‘Mass’ at The Royal Festival Hall. This production was conducted by Marin Alsop, with vocal coaching by Mary King and direction by Jude Kelly CBE. Shortly before this, Sophie filmed her solo performance for BBC One’s television series ‘All Together Now!’ sharing classical music with a wider audience. For Christmas 2022 she performed Walking In The Air with Violinist Esther Abrami for Christmas Carols on ITV which was hosted by Jane McDonald. Earlier in 2022, Sophie returned from Bergen, Norway after singing in the World Premier of Ryan Wigglesworth’s ‘Magnificat’ at the Grieghallen with the Bergen Filharmoniske Kor, Edvard Grieg Kor and the Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester conducted by Edward Gardner.

In 2023, Sophie is delighted to be the Mezzo-Soprano Soloist in Bernstein’s Mass again this time for the Manchester Premiere at the Bridgewater Hall.

The Elmore String Quartet

Winners of the Tunnell Trust Awards 2020, the Elmore String Quartet (formerly the Freeman String Quartet) is a dynamic young ensemble formed at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2017.

Working closely with Donald Grant (Elias String Quartet) and Petr Prause (Talich String Quartet), the group found early success winning the RNCM’s Nossek and Hirsch Chamber Music Prizes for their performances of Mendelssohn’s String Quartet Op. 12, and Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 132.

These successes led to performances across the UK, performing recitals for Manchester Concert Society, the Lake District International Music Festival and the South Downs International Summer Music Festival, where they became the first ‘Quartet in Residence’ in 2018. The South Downs Festival presented them with the opportunity to learn with the Benyounes String Quartet, as well as giving the closing performance of the festival where they performed works by Smetana, Haydn and Glass in St. Andrews Church, Alfriston Sussex.

In 2020, the Elmore Quartet were appointed as the RNCM’s Studio Quartet. They enjoyed an intense year of study, culminating in a second place finish at the CAVATINA Intercollegiate Chamber Music Competition in Wigmore Hall. During their time as Studio Quartet, they had the privilege of working with both Frederik øland (Danish Quartet) and Bruno Schrecker (Allegri Quartet).

In 2021, the Quartet were delighted to be appointed as Junior Fellows in Chamber Music at the RNCM for the academic year 2021/22. This position allows the Quartet to continue to work intensely together alongside coaching young chamber ensembles at the RNCM. This year, the Quartet have enjoyed touring Scotland as well as recording Joseph Bologne Concertante Quartet No. 2 as part of the BBC Philharmonic’s Diversity in Music programme for BBC Radio 3.