Four friends got together in semi-lockdown, 2021. We played, we ate and drank, we played some more, we enjoyed it so much that we decided then and there to form a string quartet and put ourselves out to the world.
Our inaugural concert at St. Alkmund's Church, Whitchuch (photo R.P.Kelley)
Ruth Henley reflects.... Collaborations in music come about in many diverse ways; a conversation with a stranger, an unexpected meeting with a former colleague, plans hatched over a pint or two after a concert. Jarualda was born as a result of a composer’s frustration that the majority of his works had not even been rehearsed, let alone performed! Would it be possible to persuade some friends to come round and play through his string quartet in exchange for a meal I wondered? Enquiries were made and, soon enough, David, Alex, Jane and I were gathered together, furniture pushed aside to create space, delicious smells emanating from the kitchen and, in my case at least, a certain amount of apprehension lest the music (or food for that matter!) disappoint. I need not have worried; after a few minutes deliberating about what to ‘warm up’ with, we settled down to play Schubert. At the end we sat and looked at each other going “Wow!” “What just happened?” It felt like we’d been together for years, not half an hour. We played through Paul’s [Ruth's husband is a composer] quartet and explored Ravel and then succumbed to the smells from the kitchen, already talking about playing again soon! Before long we were needing a name that would stand out but would also say something about who we are as musicians. Playing around with our names and feeling very much that a good quartet is always about more than the sum of its parts, synergy in sound, I came up with Jarualda. While there is no literal meaning, to us it represents the fact that everyone is of equal importance and together we are more than just four musicians – we are The Jarualda Quartet.
Ruth Henley began her musical education at the age of twelve in the famous Leicestershire Schools Orchestra. Following her studies at the Birmingham School of Music, where she won numerous prizes including the Sylvia Cleaver Prize for Chamber Music on two occasions, Ruth transferred to the Royal Academy where she studied on the post graduate performance course. She was privileged to be invited to take part in Masterclasses with Jacqueline Du Pré and subsequently studied for a time with Alexander Baillie. Like Alex, Ruth is very happy in the orchestra pit, particularly for opera. She was principal cellist for Mid-Wales Opera for five years, with whom she toured throughout Wales, and has also enjoyed working for many operatic societies and for Birmingham Rep. where, on a memorable night, she was extended the great honour of being allowed to play the hooter as the Cowardly Lion was punched on the nose! Ruth has performed all over the United Kingdom as a recitalist, in diverse chamber ensembles and as a concerto soloist, including performances of the Elgar, Dvořák, Schumann and Saint-Säens concerti, and Leighton’s Veris Gratia for Oboe, Cello and String Orchestra. She champions the music of her husband Paul, being honoured to give the premières of all of his works for cello to date, and taking part in performances of larger scale chamber music and orchestral works. Currently she is very busy with Jarualda and in much demand as a section principal for numerous orchestras and choral societies.
David Joyce is a professional Violin and Viola player, working as Head of Strings at Shrewsbury School. He also teaches at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on a Saturday. In the summer, David is the first Violin coach for the National Scout and Guide Orchestra. Trained at the Purcell School and the Royal College of Music, David worked with some of the top UK orchestras before settling down with his family in Shropshire. He often still appears as the leader of regional orchestras and has been in four professional String Quartets over the years. He is in a long-standing duo with Richard Silk (ex-Birmingham Conservatoire Director of Studies) – they play both Baroque and more modern programmes together. David has played as concerto soloist with several orchestras and has performed on his violin in many countries of the world, including America, France, Spain, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and, more recently, in Hong Kong. He often visits Hong Kong to give masterclasses and workshops. His violin is a 1903 Stradivarius model made by W.E. Hill and co. and he plays on a modern interpretation of a Guadagnini viola. Future projects include more work with young string players in schools, a performance of the Mendelssohn Violin concerto and a Tour and a visit to Thailand to play. He lives in Shrewsbury with his wife & daughter and his hobbies include playing golf and collecting regional ales from trips around the country.
Jane Park/Postlethwaite (viola) was a first study violin performance undergraduate at the RWCMD in Cardiff, receiving the Ernest and Doris Haigh Memorial Award for achievement and commitment to studies on graduating. On returning from a spell studying in Finland, Jane held the 2nd violinist seat in the college quartet, partaking in masterclasses with the Allegri Quartet and winning a prize at the Aberdeen International Festival with their performance of Debussy’s String Quartet. Jane also holds a Masters degree in Contemporary Music Studies from Goldsmiths College, reflecting her passion for ‘modern’ music. As a student violinist with the Northern Sinfonia and London Philharmonic youth orchestras, Jane had the pleasure of working closely with both established and emerging star conductors such as Kurt Masur, Ilan Volkov and Daniel Harding, performing with them in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and Snape Maltings. Jane made the switch to the ‘dark side’ of the viola after graduating from college and was soon teaching viola at Kingston University up to Masters level. Jane now combines her rewarding role as a chartered Educational Psychologist with her professional freelance work in orchestras, chamber ensembles and operatic societies. Recent solo appearances include performances of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, Kurt Atterberg’s Suite for Violin and Viola and Berio’s Duetti with Alex on violin, alongside Bruch’s Double Concerto for Clarinet and Viola and the ‘Bach Double’ with Alex and Shropshire Chamber Orchestra.
Alex Postlethwaite is a freelance violinist based in the West Midlands since moving from London five years ago. He is in demand as orchestral leader, chamber musician, soloist and recording artist, having worked with many top chart acts including the Divine Comedy and Kinobe, whose hit “Slip into something more comfortable” was featured on the Kronenbourg advert. Solo appearances include performances of violin concerti by Schnittke, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Szymanowski, Delius, Beethoven and others. He leads the Blaze Ensemble performing chamber recitals around London including St James, Piccadilly and St.Martin-in-the-fields and they recently worked with composers Paul Pritchard and Adrian Sutton on new commissions. His favourite place is in the depths of an opera pit and he has lead many operatic groups including Park Opera, Guildford Opera, Windsor and Eton Opera, and touring stately homes in the UK with Candlelight Opera Company. He is guest leader of the London Shostakovich Orchestra and more locally he is the leader of Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra. He has toured as band leader with ‘Toccata’, a charitable, touring musical production company; with them he has had the pleasure of performing in Zambia, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Northern Ireland and Kenya playing dozens of shows and raising money for a number of charities in those countries. Hobbies include making beer when it's wet and cold, occasional star gazing when it’s not wet and cold, and looking after his young family. His violin is a copy of a 1732 Guarneri, whom he calls Kylie.
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