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'Shostakovich: Life, Letters and Friendship'
Celebrity Concert: Carducci Quartet with Stephen Johnson, narrator

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8pm, doors open 7.30pm

Saturday, 15 October 2022


'Shostakovich: Life, Letters and Friendship – a portrait through words and music'
With Stephen Johnson, narrator

The Carducci String Quartet premiered this new music and words programme about the life of Shostakovich at the Barbican in London on 9 November 2021.

The Barbican website provided this description of the event: 'Experience the intense emotional power of Shostakovich’s String Quartets as the Carducci Quartet paint an intimate portrait of the great composer through music and spoken word. Take a journey deep into Shostakovich’s psyche, as he walked a delicate tightrope balancing political pragmatism with personal expression against the backdrop of Josef Stalin’s tyrannical Soviet regime. Historical sources and letters from the composer to one of his closest confidantes, read by actor and director Samuel West, are paired with extracts from contemporaneous quartets, painting a fascinating picture of how music offered a much-needed emotional outlet in the most difficult of times.'

Tonight, the role of narrator will be performed by author and BBC broadcaster Stephen Johnson.

An internationally-renowned Anglo-Irish string quartet based in the UK, the versatile and award-winning Carducci String Quartet have performed everything from brand new quartets to classic works by Haydn, complete Shostakovich cycles, and even partnered with folk-rock icon Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.

Founded in 1997, the ensemble have won numerous international competitions, including Concert Artists Guild International Competition USA 2007 and First Prize at Finland’s Kuhmo International Chamber Music Competition 2004. In 2016, they took home a Royal Philharmonic Society Award for their performances of cycles of the complete Shostakovich quartets. This 'Shostakovich15' project was accompanied by a recording of Quartets 4, 8 and 11 for Signum Classics, to which they added a further volume in spring 2019 (Nos. 1, 2 and 7).

The Carducci Quartet are recognised as one of today’s most successful string quartets. Performing over 90 concerts worldwide each year the quartet also run an annual Carducci Festival in Highnam, Gloucester, and are Quartet-in-Residence at Dean Close School, Cheltenham.

The Carducci Quartet have appeared at prestigious venues across the globe, including the Wigmore Hall, London; National Concert Hall, Dublin; Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen; the Frick Collection and Carnegie Hall, New York; Library of Congress and John F Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.; St Lawrence Center for the Arts, Toronto; and Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. Festival residencies include Cheltenham, Ryedale, Lichfield, Presteigne, Kilkenny, Snape Proms, and West Cork.

The Carducci Music Trust was set up to support their work in schools and with young musicians. They are also the Carne Trust Ensemble-in-Residence at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London, and perform a number of school concerts each year supported by the CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust.

Note: Wine and soft drinks will be available to purchase (with cash) during the interval at tonight's performance.

How to get tickets

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Concert ticket: £25

Children and students up to 25 (with ID) £10
Teachers (accompanying one or more students) £15
NHS staff £10
Free for members and their children

Tickets can be booked online via WeGotTickets (subject to 10% admin fee), or via the Membership Secretary (tel 020 8398 4377 or

This concert is dedicated to Michael Woods. It is kindly supported by the RC Sherriff Trust and a private sponsor.

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“...The Carducci Quartet played a blinder at the Wigmore Hall...playing of vivacity and constant rhythmic subtlety..." The Strad

"...their ascent into the league of the world's major quartets has been phenomenal..." The Yorkshire Post

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