Katie Stillman and Leo Melvin join the ensemble, replacing former first violinist James Dickenson and cellist Nick Stringfellow

Katie Stillman

Katie Stillman, the quartet’s new first violinist

Ten years since its founding, the Villiers Quartet is losing two of its original members: first violinist James Dickenson and cellist Nick Stringfellow. 

Their replacements are the Canadian violinist Katie Stillman and London-born cellist Leo Melvin.

Stillman has a wide-ranging career as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral principal.  Last season, she directed and performed as a soloist with Manchester Camerata and London Concertante as well as guest leading Opera North’s production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

On her new appointment with the quartet, she commented: ‘Joining a quartet during lockdown has been a completely new experience.  It has all been about finding ways to work creatively without performances.  We have become adept at online meetings, composition workshops with high school students online and intensive learning of string quartets through zoom!…I am looking forward to the New Year with the Villiers, full of newly commissioned music especially for us, Beethoven’s Op.135 quartet and a symposium on the Diversity in String Quartets. Bring on 2021!’

Watch: Working from home: members of the Villiers Quartet together in isolation

Melvin, who graduated with honours from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he studied on full scholarship, with Richard Lester, has performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra,and has given solo and chamber recitals across the UK. He also teaches cello and piano in London.

On joining the Villiers, he said: ‘I have worked for some years now as an orchestral musician and a teacher, but all the while I was playing chamber music with friends and colleagues and it was always my favourite thing to do. I have dreamed of being in a professional chamber group for some ten years now, and despite finally achieving my goal at such a difficult time for professional music-making I am still extremely excited and feel so privileged to work on and perform such great music with such wonderful musicians as the members of the Villiers quartet. In short, I’m ecstatic to be here and can’t wait to get to work!’

Named after Villiers Street in London, which is known partly for its musical atmosphere, the Villiers Quartet have featured in events including the Brit Jazz Festival and the British Music Society, and have given masterclasses at the University of Nottingham, Goshen College, Dartmouth College, Syracuse University, Sherborne School and Nottingham High School.