Festival of Chichester: Family affair for Badke Quartet

It will be a family affair as The Badke Quartet offers a lecture recital for the Festival of Chichester at St John’s Chapel on Tuesday, July 1.

Delivering the lecture will be Professor Roger Parker, father of quartet member Emma, who is delighted to be back at the Festival after enjoying last year’s inaugural season.

“We enjoyed it so much, and St John’s is just such an amazing venue,” Emma says. “The acoustic is just fantastic. Asking why the acoustic is so good is like asking why do you fall in love! It’s one of those things that you just can’t explain. People train to make acoustics good, but I think a lot of it is luck, and whatever it is, St John’s has got it. It is a beautifully-resonant sound, but it is not too boomy so that you can’t hear the detail. For a string quartet like us, it is absolutely perfect.”

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4.30pm offers a pre-concert talk and performance of Beethoven’s Quartet in A minor Op.132, with Professor Parker; and then the evening, starting at 7.30pm, again at St John’s Chapel, offers Haydn – Quartet in Bb major La chasse; Haydn – Quartet in F major Op.77 No.2; and Brahms – Clarinet Quintet in B minor Op.115 with Maximilliano Martin.

“My father is used to doing lots of public speaking about music, and we often thought how lovely it would be if we could collaborate.”

Emma’s mother, Lynden Cranham, also a musician, will also be performing at this year’s Festival of Chichester, with the Consort of Twelve in the University of Chichester Chapel on Sunday, June 29 at 7.30pm.

“My mother and I have played together a lot,” Emma says,” but my father had always been left out because he is the academic.”

And so they rectified that with a series of lecture recitals in London: “What happened was that my father would talk for about half an hour, and we came and played as a quartet. We did a series of Haydns. We did all sorts. We did Bartok, and we did some Britten. It was amazing for my father and us to work together. It was a nice way of doing something professional together, but the great thing is that the lecture recitals became so popular that we had to keep changing the venue. There were always plenty of people wanting to come along.

“It made us realise that the lecture recital was something that people were really keen for. Most people in the audience are not classical musicians themselves, and they want to learn something as well as enjoy the music. It’s just more enjoyable if you come away having learnt more about the pieces.”

For the lecture recital, the quartet are now ready to tackle the late Beethoven: “This year we have been doing it a lot. We were put off for a long time playing late Beethoven. Late Beethoven is so complicated and notorious for its difficulties, but we have been together for 11 years now, and we felt ready for it. This year has been an incredible journey for us. We’ve done it a number of times, and we feel that every time we perform it, it is getting more into our blood.”

Emma, who went to the Prebendal in Chichester and Portsmouth High School, went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London, graduating in 2005 with first-class honours degrees in both undergraduate and postgraduate performance.

The quartet grew out of her time there, the result of a chance conversation in a bar. At first she felt she didn’t have time to join the proposed quartet, but she is very glad she did.

“As soon as we started playing together, it was quite obvious that there was something really special going on. Often you can get disagreements or arguments or clashes of personality, but it just worked, and so often that doesn’t happen!”