The Elias String Quartet visits Hancher, exhibiting international collaboration


Cellist of internationally renowned quartet discusses her relationship with music and her fellow musicians.

By Sarah Stortz

Assembled in a circle, each member of the Elias String Quartet lifts a bow to create harmonious music, with their faces scrunched in focus. Vibrant music reverberates from their instruments, expressing a huge amount of energy through a classical medium.

 The group will perform at Hancher today at 7:30 p.m., part of a collaboration with the University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program.

Bringing in talent from all over Europe, the members of the quartet come from several countries including Scotland, Sweden, and France. According the group’s website, the Elias String Quartet is has gained international renown as one the leading ensembles of the current generation.

Cellist Marie Bitlloch has had a history in music, given that she has played since she was 5-years-old.

“I come from a family where classical music was quite natural,” Bitlloch said. “There was always classical music playing the house. For me, it was just a natural thing when I came of age to start an instrument.”

Bitlloch initially helped start the ensemble in 1998 while studying at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

 “Now, after having played together for almost 20 years, it’s almost as if we’re all of one mind,” Bitlloch said. “We almost tell what the other person is thinking. It’s a bit like a relationship, I guess, when you really get to know each other well.”

She said she sees value in all of the musicians diverse backgrounds.

“We all love playing with other people because I think that really broadens your horizons,” Bitlloch said. “That’s why I went abroad to study in the first place. All arts have a specific culture to each country, and I just wanted to see a new one. I think it’s a real plus for us to have all these different angles and hopefully, if we can bring them together, the results are all the richer.”

Hancher education manager Micah Ariel James said the UI String Quartet Residency Program collaborates with Hancher once a year to organize a string concert.

James she was excited to act as more of residency for the artists of this event.

“As often as possible, we try to collaborate with different residents,” James said. “It’s been really great. This residency marks it more of a collaboration than in [past events].”

David Rowe, the quartet’s manager for the United States, said he is extremely proud to represent the group.

“Representing the Elias Quartet in North America is one of the great privileges of my professional life,” Rowe wrote in an email to the The Daily Iowan. “The way they connect so directly with audiences through the passion of their performances is extraordinary, and I am thrilled to be introducing them to Hancher and [the University of Iowa].”

During her time in Iowa City, Bitlloch will be excited to perform for an audience who appreciates different music.

“I’ve found the students really receptive and open,” she said. “Whatever I want to share, they kind of take it in and react so well. I also think there’s a really great ethic here in relation to music. It seems like the students are really looking for what I think is the essence of music, and that’s really, really wonderful to see.”


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