Laura van der Heijden joins The Brodsky Quartet for the Petworth Festival

Laura van der Heijden
Laura van der Heijden

The Brodsky Quartet team up with rising-star cellist Laura van der Heijden for a special concert at this year’s Petworth Festival.

A former pupil at Sackville secondary school in East Grinstead, Laura won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2012.

She will share the stage with the Brodsky Quartet for a concert at this year’s Petworth Festival (St Mary’s Church, Petworth, Sunday, July 28, 7.30pm).

Paul Cassidy, who has played viola for the past 37 years of its 47-year existence, said: “We just met Laura, probably at a party or something like that, but we had always been very aware of her playing and of her rising career. She is such a fun-loving, energetic, amazing young woman. She is a star cello player and she is also at Cambridge University doing a degree.

“I just think she has got an infectious freshness to her. There is a vitality there and there is also a lovely opened-hearted approach to music which suits us very well.”

The programme will be Boccherini String Quintet Op 30 No 6 La Musica Notturna della Strade di Madrid; Borodin String Quartet No 2 in D; and Schubert String Quintet in C, Op 163 D956.

“We are a gregarious bunch and we do like working with other people,” Paul said. “Playing in a string quartet can be a very insular experience and there is such beautiful repertoire you can play when you widen it all out a bit. Mostly, obviously, we do the string quartet work because that is what we are, but we never shirk away from the possibility of welcoming friends and meeting other musicians.”

Paul joined the Brodsky Quartet after they had been going for ten years: “I was mostly in London. I left Ireland because I wanted to find somewhere to study. I left when I was 16 and came to London to do various things. But I arrived not knowing that to get into music college, you had to play two instruments. I had about 18 months to learn to play the piano! But I got a scholarship to the Royal College, and that was that. I did my studies there and I also studied abroad.

“And then I got a telephone call from this quartet in Manchester. They had gone to the Royal Northern as a group. Jacqueline and Ian are still with us, the originals, but their viola player left for whatever reason. They were coming to the end of their studies and those are moments where people make decisions. He decided that he was going to do something else, and so there was an opening.

“I think they were having difficulty finding someone locally so they were casting their net further, and a mutual friend knew me and knew them. He recommended me.

“The quartet had done a certain amount by that time. They had been doing concerts and they were starting to do competitions and were doing quite well. They were important. When I got the telephone call from them, I started asking around everybody to ask what they knew of them, and it was clear that they already had a reputation and that they were revered by people and that people were realising that they were going somewhere.”

And they did indeed.

“I think the most important thing (in such longevity) is that you have got a set of people that are devoted to something. That’s really key.

“You have to have an unquestioning love of what you are doing, and there has to be a need to continue to bring this art to the public.

“And there is selfishness there too! To get to play, as in Petworth, the Schubert is a real privilege for all of us!”

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