St. Michael and All Angels, Ledbury, drew an audience from far and wide to listen to the Carducci Quartet on 23rd June.  Founded in 1997,  the internationally renowned Anglo-Irish Carducci Quartet is recognised as one of today’s most successful string quartets.  The ensemble has appeared at prestigious venues across the globe including the Wigmore Hall, London, Carnegie Hall, New York; Library of Congress and John. F Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. and has  won numerous international competitions. Not confining themselves to strictly traditional repertoire, the four play a wide variety of music,  and have even partnered folk-rock icon Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (not he of the horse-drawn seed-drill but he of the 1960s group).

Education work is an important element of the Carducci Quartet’s work and The Carducci Music Trust was set up to support their work in schools and with young musicians. On 23rd June, the quartet had been working with pupils from Hereford Cathedral School and in the evening, shared the stage with them to help raise funds for HHCT. A previous review by The Guardian newspaper mentioned  “…high-octane playing balanced control with devil-may-care spontaneity…” and this evening certainly reflected that. Pieces selected ranged from Elgar’s Nimrod (is the notation reflective of the shape of the Malvern Hills which Elgar could see from his window?) to Piazzola’s Four for Tango. Clearly a favourite with the audience, particularly the younger members, it found great favour with Church Mouse who thought that Uncle Topo and his large family of cousins from the countryside were visiting, so mouse-like and interesting were the squeaks and noises coming from the quartet! The impact on people who had no idea that stringed instruments could make such varied and rhythmic sounds – and how they could be made – was easy to see.

Inspired by the professional musicians they were so lucky to perform with, the Cathedral School pupils responded enthusiastically and capably. Pre-concert music was provided by talented members of the Piano Trio who also played during the second half, and choral singing by the Hereford Cathedral Junior School Choir and Colla Voce. They displayed great energy, the ability to sing without music and concentrate like hawks on their conductors, something many adult choirs would do well to learn. Fred Miln, solo violinist, impressed the audience with his poise and confidence, excellent tuning and rounded tone. His playing evoked the swirling skirts of the  dancers who might have danced to the Hungarian folk songs upon which the Poemes Hongrois by Jeno Hubay are based.

The support of The Carducci Music Trust and Tanners Wines was much appreciated. Thanks should also go to the musical and support staff of the Cathedral School.

Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust