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“We have come together with the passion to perform rarely played piano quartets from composers such as Brahms, Mahler, Schumann and many others. We hope to fill a niche for performing piano quartets in New Zealand: the Villani Piano Quartet will provide the platform for audiences to experience these wonderful works.”
This ensemble is the result of previous collaborations between the four players in various combinations. After years of studying and performing in Europe, including gaining their Masters in Chamber Music, Sarah Spence and Marko Pop Ristov moved to Auckland where they met playing as principals with the newly formed "Wairua Sinfonietta". They have joined forces with established Auckland musicians Flavio Villani and Helen Bevin to create an ensemble.
Marko has his Masters in Chamber Music from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. His piano quartet, the "Ristov Quartet" in its two-year existence performed on many festivals across Europe. In 2010 they were invited to perform the "Rombach" piano trio by P. Dusapin for the BBC Proms. Since his arrival in New Zealand in 2013 Marko is a regular player with the APO and ACO as well as section leader of "Bach Musica".
Sarah has a German Equivalent Master of Chamber Music from the Robert Schumann Musik Hochschule. In Manchester, Sarah studied with the solo cellist of the Royal Danish Orchestra, Kim Bak Dinitzen and Baroque Cellist, Susan Shepherd. In her final year, Sarah met Solo Cellist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and was invited to study her masters with him in Duesseldorf. Sarah was a founding member of the Eris Ensemble, with whom she has recorded a CD of contemporary Scottish music. Sarah plays on a Royal Forster Cello, circa 1790.
Helen Bevin Originally from Dunedin, Helen Bevin gained a Masters of Music with Distinction from Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2011, studying under Rachel Roberts. She then spent two years in London freelancing with such orchestras as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia, touring extensively throughout Europe and China. Helen also lived in Finland after being appointed Solo Viola with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, enjoying a year learning about snow, Sibelius, and ice swimming.
Flavio Villani completed a Bachelor of Piano Performance with Matteo Napoli at the Conservatory "G.Martucci" in Salerno in 2007. In 2012 he completed a Master of Piano Performance at the University of Auckland with first class honours under the guidance of pianist Stephen De Pledge. He won the Northland Society Piano Competition in 2008, as well as first prize in the Llewelyn Piano Competition in both 2011 and 2012. Flavio has performed extensively in New Zealand and abroad including performing the Rachmaninoff Concerto No 2 with the Orchestra Filarmonica of Calabria in Italy and again with the Orchestra of CalArts in Los Angeles at the beginning of 2015.
Performed in Lower Hutt and Wanganui
Mahler | Piano Quartet in A minor
Schnittke | Piano Quartet in A minor
Brahms | Piano Quartet in G minor Op.25
Performed in Blenheim , Rotorua, and Wellington
Vasks | Piano Quartet (Selections)
Bridge | Phantasy Piano Quartet
Alfred Hill | Sacred Mountain
Schumann | Piano Quartet in E flat major Op.47