A response to the #QuarTweet Project

THURSDAY, 18 JUNE 2020 | 7.30PM – 7.35PM

What is the #QuarTweet Project?

Music is all about communicating. Much of our everyday communication takes place on social media, and the Signum Quartet invited a musical communication through performers, music creators and social media, inviting composers of all ages and abilities to tweet a short quartet of 140 notes or less on Twitter – a #quartweet!

Following in the footsteps of Bach and Webern, both unwitting quartweeters, there are #quartweets by Grawemeyer Award winners Sebastian Currier and Brett Dean, Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, Bruno Mantovani, Steven Mackey, Derek Bermel, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Julian Grant, Jing Jing Luo, Konstantia Gourzi and more. Matthijs van Dijk has written #quartweet no.1 “Eine kleine Dubstep”.

This invited response for the #QuarTweet project is by composer and friend of the Signum Quartet, Nathan James Dearden. This was written in 2017 and recorded on Saturday 2nd February, 2018 at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ for the Strijkkwartet Biënnale (Amsterdam, The Netherlands).

About the creators

Nathan James Dearden
Music Creator

Nathan James Dearden (b. 1992) is a composer and conductor, whose music is regularly performed across the UK and overseas by a variety of different instrumentalists and ensembles, from both community ensembles to internationally renowned musicians.

Nathan’s music has been commissioned, performed, featured and workshopped by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Berkeley Ensemble, The Tippett QuartetGenesis Sixteen, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Orchestra of Wales, The Heath Quartet, Grand Band, the Fidelio Trio, Hebrides Ensemble, CHROMA ensemble, Carla Rees and The Dunedin Consort. His music regularly features in concerts across the UK and overseas, including at the Cheltenham Music Festival, Dartington International Summer School and Festival, International Young Composers’ Meeting, CROSSROADS International New Music Festival and Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music. Nathan was an inaugural Young Composer-in-Residence with the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and Music Creator for Sinfonia Newydd in 2013. His music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru.

Recent notable performances include under the earth, written as part of TŷCerdd’s CoDI Chamber Programme  (Berkeley Ensemble), 2 lost songs at CROSSROADS International New Music Festival (Hebrides Ensemble),3 postcards as part of Making Music UK’s Adopt-a-Composer Scheme (Swansea Philharmonic Choir), and franzat City of London Guildhall (London Philharmonic Orchestra).

Upcoming projects include a song-cycle collaboration with composer and pianist Michael Finnissy, a new work for pianist Mary Dullea as part of an album project with the TŷCerdd Label, an outreach collaboration in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Swansea receiving city status with the Welsh National Opera, plus a commission from National Youth Arts Wales for a new work for National Youth Choir of Wales. For their 2020 season, Nathan is a Young Composer with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, creating new music with the choirs in partnership with NMC Recordings and the PRS Foundation.

Nathan has recently been awarded an Early Career Public Engagement Grant from the Institute of Musical Research in support of Spotlight Series: Finnissy at 70 and was selected as a London Philharmonic Orchestra Leverhulme Arts Scholar for their 2016/2017 season. In May 2017, Nathan received the inaugural Paul Mealor Award for Outstanding Young Composers by the Welsh Music Guild.

As a conductor, Nathan is carving a career as one of the most sought-after interpreters of his generation for the performance of twentieth and twenty-first century repertoire. Nathan has held posts and guest conductorships at National Youth Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Choir of Wales, CHROMA, Cardiff University, Cardiff Contemporary Music Group, London Metropolitan University / CASS Institute, and is currently the Director of New Music Collective and New Voices Consort at Royal Holloway, University of London. Nathan made his London Philharmonic Orchestra conducting debut with members of the LPO at their 2018 Summer Gala. Nathan has recorded, performed and premiered works by established living composers such as Judith Weir, David Lang, Caroline Shaw, Michael Finnissy, Benjamin Tassie, Gavin Bryars and Howard Skempton, plus hundreds of new works by young and emerging composers. 

Based in South East England, Nathan is currently Performance Manager, Visiting Lecturer in Music Composition, Conductor of the New Voices Consort and New Music Collective and Postgraduate Research Scholar at Royal Holloway, University of London. Supervised by Mark BowdenHelen Grime and Julian Johnson, Nathan’s research interests include parody in music, and music as a form of social commentary. 

Nathan holds a Bachelor of Music (with Honours) from Cardiff University, where he was awarded the David Lloyd Music Prize for excellence in vocal studies and choral work (2012) and the Elizabeth Griffiths Award for his outstanding contribution to the musical life at Cardiff University School of Music (2013). He later graduated from Cardiff University as a Master of Music (with Distinction) in Music Composition with Robert Fokkens, Louis Johnson and Arlene Sierra, where his studies were kindly supported by Cardiff University, the James Pantyfedwen Foundation and the RVW Trust

Nathan is a Member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (SMISM), a Trustee of Classical Remix, Board Member of the Welsh Music Guild and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).


Signum Quartet

Florian Donderer, violin i; Annette Walther, violin ii; Xandi van Dijk, viola; Thomas Schmitz, violoncello

Thanks to its rousing and lively interpretations and individual programme concepts, the Signum Quartet has made its mark on the international quartet scene and has established itself as one of the most distinguished ensembles of its generation.

Intensive studies with the Alban Berg Quartet, Artemis Quartet and the Melos Quartet as well as collaborations with György Kurtág, Walter Levin, Alfred Brendel, Leon Fleisher and Joerg Widmann have shaped the artistic development of the Signum Quartet, which has won numerous awards (German Music Competition, Premio Paolo Borciani, London International String Quartet Competition) and has been accorded intensive support (i.a. BBC New Generation Artists, stART-Programm/ Bayer Kultur).

Concert appearances have taken the Signum Quartet to international podia from Madrid and Barcelona to Basel and Paris. The quartet has performed at the Hamburg Laeiszhalle, the Pierre Boulez Saal and Berlin Philharmonie, the Gewandhaus Leipzig, the Luxemburg Philharmonie, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Konzerthaus Vienna, the Wigmore Hall London, the Boston Harvard Musical Association as well as at the Schleswig-Holstein, Rheingau and Schwetzingen Music Festivals and at the BBC Proms.

The Signum Quartet’s discography is a testament to their stylistic range: Next to the greats of the quartet literature, there are rarities such as the quartets of Ludwig Thuille and a recording of quartet movements.

Their recording ‘No.3’ (Bartók, Berg and Schnittke) was awarded the International Classical Music Awards 2014 ‘Best Chamber Music Recording’. Subsequent recordings include “soundescapes“ (Ravel, Debussy, Adès) and “Alla czeca“ (Suk, Schulhoff, Dvorák). Most recently, the quartet has released “Aus der Ferne” with works by Franz Schubert, which has met with universal acclaim and was awarded the Diapason d‘Or for September 2018.

Regular collaborations with contemporary composers are an integral aspect of the Signum Quartet’s artistic work. Bruno Mantovani dedicated his String Quartet No. 3 to the ensemble. In 2019, the quartet will release premiere recordings of works by Erkki-Sven Tüür and Kevin Volans. 

In 2015, the quartet launched its innovative social media project #quartweet, where composers of all ages and abilities are invited to tweet a short quartet of 140 notes or less on Twitter. The project has received much media attention and been featured on Deutschlandfunk, BBC In Tune and BR U-21. Contributing composers include Grawemeyer Award winners Brett Dean and Sebastian Currier, Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, Bruno Mantovani, and Kevin Volans.

Chamber music partners of the quartet include Elisabeth Leonskaja, Joerg Widmann, Igor Levit, Nils Moenkemeyer, Adrian Brendel and Dominique Horwitz.