THE ODEION STRING QUARTET was established as a full-time resident string quartet at the University of the Free State (UFS) in 1991. It is the only resident string quartet at a South African university. The Odeion String Quartet is a flagship of the UFS and symbolises the university’s commitment to the arts. It plays an important strategic role in the development of music for symphony orchestra and in classical music training in the Free State.

Concerts
For the first eight years of its existence, the quartet comprised the same four players: Derek Ochse, Abrie de Wet, John Wille and Michael Haller. Apart from concerts countrywide in all major centres, the quartet took part in music festivals in Norway, Zimbabwe and Botswana, as well as all the major arts festivals in South Africa. They developed an extensive repertoire and performed with artists of international acclaim, including the Norwegian Vertavo String Quartet. Several CDs were produced.

Members
The quartet configuration changed when the first leader, Derek Ochse, retired at the end of 1999. Juan Muñoz joined the quartet as leader and started several innovative projects. After his resignation in 2002, Jürgen Schwietering was appointed leader in 2004. An opportunity to reconstitute the quartet afresh presented itself in 2007 with the resignation of Jürgen Schwietering and Abrie de Wet, followed by the retirement of both John Wille and Michael Haller shortly afterwards. Denise Sutton (leader), together with Sharon de Kock, Jeanne-Louise Moolman and Anmari van der Westhuizen, was appointed in 2008. This all-female quartet has performed to critical acclaim in Bloemfontein, Bulawayo, Cape Town, George, Grahamstown, Harare, Johannesburg, Knysna, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, and Stellenbosch.

Leaders
Artists with whom they have appeared include Albie van Schalkwyk, Ben Schoeman, Catherine Foxcroft, Eddy van Oosthuyse, Farida Bacharova, James Grace, Leon Bosch, Leslie Howard, Liesl Stoltz, Marian Lewin, and Zanta Hofmeyr. During 2011, the quartet recorded Hendrik Hofmeyr’s string quartets; the CD will be released later this year. Following Denise Sutton’s retirement at the end of 2012, Samson Diamond was appointed as the Odeion String Quartet’s new first violin and leader in January 2013. The inaugural concert with the quartet’s new leader took place on 21 February 2013.

Teaching
The members of the quartet play an important role as teachers at the Odeion School of Music (OSM) at the UFS – attracting students from all over the country – and coach chamber music ensembles of the OSM such as the Odeion Sinfonia and the OSM Camerata. They also lead the string sections of the Free State Symphony Orchestra (FSSO), coach the string sections of the Free State Youth Orchestra (FSYO), and assist with the Mangaung Strings Project. Thus, the quartet is an essential part of UFS collaboration with the FSSO, the FSYO, the Free State Musicon, the Free State Provincial Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, as well as Pacofs.


FACULTY CONTACT

T: +27 51 401 2240 or humanities@ufs.ac.za

Postgraduate:
Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Undergraduate:
Katlego Mabulana: +27 51 401 2495
Juanita Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3269

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