Dulcinea Quartet Japan Tour (March/April)
With violinist Minn Majoe heading half way around the world to tour Japan we asked her to tell us all about the Dulcinea Quartet and what they’re getting up to! Here’s what she had to say….
‘Everyone loves a string quartet. It’s a basic rite of passage during any string players musical education. To my mind, no matter what your musical background, there’s a universal delight in this unique blend of string colours which is repeatedly visited by composers and produces such a varied body of repertoire. That’s why I was thrilled when we formed the Dulcinea Quartet in 2008 as fledgling students at the Royal Academy of Music, probably in the dark recesses of the basement practise rooms. Fast-forward to 2015 and we are busy finalising details for our second tour to Japan! Based on the success of last year’s tour and with the continued support of our audiences, Sasakawa foundation, Kinzoku and the Metal Technology Co Ltd, we have been able to fill our ten day schedule with concerts in wonderful venues all over the country.
In everyday quartet life, we love performing both well known music from the quartet canon as well as new music from around the world. For our Japan tours we enjoy commissioning works from both British and Japanese composers. This year we will premier ‘The Echoes of Dream’ for shamisen and string quartet by Taichi Imanishi. We had a great first rehearsal with shamisen last week – the combination of western and Japanese string instruments is really successful and perfectly showcases how the two musical cultures can work together beautifully. Alongside this we will perform works by Britten, Vaughan Williams and Elgar, plus arrangements of folk songs by our multi-talented violist Martin.
The tour has been in the planning since Autumn 2014 and as in every group, each person has their own role to take care of. I tend to oversee repertoire programming and keep on track with UK concerts while the others concentrate on Japan. Haru (violin 2), as our resident Japanese lady, has turned into our PA and tour organiser extraordinare. As I mentioned already, Martin is our music arranger, online promoter and hat buyer for kids concerts (see photo). Our cellist Hannah is self-appointed restaurant researcher, a highly important role as we are a very hungry (greedy) quartet. We are at the stage where there is less administration and the fun part can happen which is rehearsing the repertoire for the tour. There is a fair amount to learn as we have six recitals, some involving shamisen and piano, plus children’s concerts and community performances, which each have their own programme. We’re happy though as we’ve chosen pieces we love playing, so bring it on!
I cannot believe that in under a month we will be giving our first recital of the tour in Tokyo. It will be fantastic to be back, surrounded by such a beautiful culture and rich heritage, as well as delicious food! My strongest memory from last year was of the generous hospitality of the Japanese colleagues and audiences we met and I’m sure we will make many great new friends this year too.’