." . . they showed impressive ensemble as the audience were delighted with a well balanced and virtuosic performance."
ARGYLLSHIRE ADVERTISER, FEBRUARY 17TH 2017
Rachel Spencer, violin
Andrew Lees, violin
Morag Robertson, viola
Helen Duncan, cello
The Roxburgh Quartet’s enjoyment and love of the wonderful and varied repertoire for string quartet is at the very heart of their music making. Their concerts are about sharing the warmth, intimacy and passion of what is broadly recognised as some the greatest music ever written. They are committed to bringing live performance to as wide an audience as possible and their concerts are highly popular with people of all ages. Formed in 2005 and based in Edinburgh, they are quartet in residence at the city’s beautiful Lauriston Hall. Their repertoire includes the late Schubert quartets, the German Romantics, the great French masterworks and, notably, Bartok’s First Quartet and Tan Dun’s Eight Colours for String Quartet. In 2012 the quartet performed Bach’s The Art of Fugue in the lunchtime concert series of both Edinburgh and St Andrews Universities, with harpsichordists John Kitchen and Tom Wilkinson. This experience inspired the quartet to explore even earlier music by adding Purcell to their repertoire. In 2017, Roxburgh celebrated their 12th year with a series of concerts at Lauriston Hall followed by a concert in the Glasgow University lunchtime concert series and a very happy return tour of Mid Argyll. Looking ahead, the quartet is very excited about re-visiting their wonderful friends and audiences, and meeting new ones too.
Rachel lives in Glasgow and enjoys a varied freelance career as a soloist, chamber musician and member of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Originally from Holmfirth in West Yorkshire, she studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with Peter Lissauer and James Clark, and subsequently at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Alexander Janiczek. In addition to winning the major prizes and scholarships during her studies, in 2011 Rachel was selected as a Young Artist in Residence at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
As a chamber musician Rachel performs regularly with groups including the Kapten Trio, Spencer-Strachan Duo and Red Note Ensemble, and she has appeared with artists including Benjamin Grosvenor, David Watkin and Susan Tomes.
Passionate about music education, Rachel leads workshops and outreach projects across the UK and abroad with SCO, BBC SSO, Red Note Ensemble, Starcatchers and Live Music Now. She is also a vocal coach for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain.
Andrew Lees is a former member of both the Hallé and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras playing viola. He was first a member of the Roxburgh Quartet as the viola player but had to stop after a playing injury. He was delighted to be able to rejoin a few years later however as 2nd violin.
Since returning to Edinburgh he has also concentrated on solo playing, arranging, teaching and conducting. He is the conductor of the Open Orchestra he has conducted many other Edinburgh-based groups including Edinburgh Grand Opera, Edinburgh Musical Theatre and Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group. However perhaps his most significant achievement to date is an arrangement of Rossini’s William Tell Overture for 40 violas and triangle.
Originally from Glasgow, Morag attended St. Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh and went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London. After completing her undergraduate degree, she continued her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music on the Hallé String Leadership Training Scheme and was awarded the Charles Hallé Award for that year.
Morag was recently appointed Tutti Viola with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and has worked with many orchestras around the UK including the Hallé, Scottish Ensemble, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra and was a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra from 2015 – 2017.
As a chamber musician, she enjoyed success with the Manon Quartet during her studies in London and has performed as guest violist with the Edinburgh Quartet. She is also a member of Explore Ensemble, a group of six core players specializing in performing new music.
At the age of seven, after moving on from an early dream of being a singer, Helen set her heart on becoming a cellist. She studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Raphael Sommer, a highlight from this time being the invitation to take part in master-classes with Paul Tortellier as part of the Chamber Music Festival in Saint Sernin, France.
After returning to Scotland, she took an active role in the Scottish music scene, playing continuo in many churches and cathedrals, coaching chamber music in the Mendelssohn On Mull Festival, freelancing broadly orchestrally and playing at the official opening of the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. During this period she was awarded an Arts Council grant to further her chamber music studies.
Pursuing her interest in the role of music in the development of individuals, Helen enjoyed working on the education project “Ring Time” with the Scottish based contemporary arts ensemble, Red Note. She is a founder member of Roxburgh Quartet.
Helen has two sons and lives in Edinburgh. In addition to playing, she enjoys teaching a wide-ranging circle of cello pupils.