This is the story of Joshua Lynch, cellist from the UK, James Cullen, violist from the UK, Andrea Timpanaro, violinist from Italy (and Sicily) and Johanna Rode, violinist from Germany.
In autumn 2017 we met for the first time as students of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in London. Four people who could not be more different in origin, background and personality. Yet we still thought it would be a brilliant idea to play string quartet together! Because what we soon realised was how many aspects we did share: such as our curiosity for the arts, different lifestyles and cultures, our passion towards travelling and discovering the world as well as – possibly most importantly – our shared pleasure towards eating Italian food! Luckily, we discover that playing concerts all around Italy is a perfect excuse to do that!
Being now based in three different countries, we have to be highly inventive in solving some obvious practical and psychological demands. For instance, even though we are classical musicians, we utilise our millennial instincts and do “sofa rehearsals” via video call.
Advocates of Tetris, we have also developed a highly sophisticated system of fitting four people, four suitcases, two violins, a viola, copious units of Italian passata and a cello into one tiny tiny car with all doors closed! We also hope that someday, we invent a vehicle that runs on Italian passata whilst cooking it, and finally quit using petrol, which is an issue we currently face choosing trains whenever possible.
So, dear Reader, I hear you ask, who are these people that make up the Celia Quartet…?
Joshua always needs a very strong coffee in the morning (usually made by one of us early risers) before he is able to speak a word. But afterwards, he is our hero, not only in giving the quartet a wonderful foundation with his cello playing but also in safely driving us home in the middle of the nights.
James is the absolute authority in aesthetics and can reliably answer questions about things such as concert dress style. Emotionally rapturous (usually optimised by an emotionally intelligent Johanna), he is an authority on movies and guides the quartet within this other sphere of arts.
Andrea adores dancing and needs it as much as he needs to breathe. We feel it won’t be long until this becomes part of our performances. Consistently inventive, his plethora of ideas (of which only the most ingenious are sniffed out by the group) has kept the quartet driving forward. It also does not hurt that he is as ambitious with cooking as he is with playing the violin!
Johanna, the quintessential voice of reason, is a talented mediator and able to see beyond her opinion. Her authority towards approaching classical repertoire is unrivalled amongst the quartet and (through the encouragement of us all) she has also reached new unexplored territories of inventiveness whilst interpreting as well.
Both Johanna and her fellow violinist, Andrea, have never wanted to make the decision who will play the first or second violin. Why bother determining roles rather than embracing their distinct voices and approach towards interpreting different pieces? So they swap, which always keeps James and Joshua on their toes each time they meet to rehearse a new work.
And if you are still curious to know more about us… well, our name Celia (found during many a vinous night-long conversation) is an Old Italian term for joke. From our experience, humour might be the hardest thing to translate between three different languages. Combining that with string quartet playing, we soon began to realise that the difference between humour and misunderstanding can be as little as one quarter-tone away (or even one unsolicited accent). Though, however arduous things might have seemed we soon learned that things get much easier if we stopped taking ourselves too seriously!
Joking aside we all share a want to express ourselves through our music-making, this is what we believe we can achieve together through playing in a quartet, and we do not believe in strict separations. Neither between different artistic mediums, we love to combine them within our performances, nor between the audience and the artist. To us, music is not only serious but can also be humorous and entertaining; it is a spectrum of emotion. Therefore, we like to „joke“ with the audience not only to prove that we are worth our name [insert laugh] but so that we can include them into our performances. We also use free improvisation to emotionally calibrate the room so that our audiences can discover the music from a different point of view.
So there you have it, dear Reader, this is us the Celia Quartet. As you may have noticed, we celebrate our diversity, combining our different strengths and using them towards something as wonderful and interesting as String Quartet playing and we would love to share this experience with you soon, dear Reader. And, hopefully soon, a dear listener.