February 9, 2015
It is with sadness that I learnt over the weekend of the passing of the brilliant viola player and one quarter of the Elysian Quartet, Vince Sipprell. Vince passed away on the 30th January 2015.
I first met the Elysian Quartet whilst a second-year undergrad at Trinity Laban, when they were postgraduate scholars back in 2003-04. A mutual friend, Jane Nicholson, introduced me to them after a concert of theirs at the Purcell Room and I must admit I was suitably intimidated and awestruck.
That year they had just recorded and released Gabriel Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 1 and there were a number of articles and posters of them around the college – I couldn’t have imagined then that this first encounter would have such an impact on my own career path.
The Elysian Quartet played a formative part in shaping my own approach to music-making and as I got to know them they were so generous as to perform in a number of early Blank Canvas events, where the renumeration probably wasn’t quite indicative of their quality, plus Vince and Emma very kindly remixed a track on my album under another brilliantly creative guise of theirs, Geese.
That they have been the quartet of choice for so many composers and producers I admire and have gone on to work with, often as a result of direct introductions, (Gabriel, Max de Wardener, Jon Hopkins, Plaid, Adem, Dominic Murcott, David Holmes, Hot Chip, Meredith Monk… the list literally goes on and on) and, essentially, been at the heart of the new music scene here in London is testament to their musicianship, of course, but more than that: their superb musical taste and huge personalities on and off stage!
Vince once said to me that he disliked playing anything more than once and so it is no wonder improvisation became a common thread to many of their more recent performances and they had become an especially tight unit in this area. One of our key Blank Canvas 18 commissions was to be a new Concerto for String Quartet in collaboration with Gwilym Simcock to showcase their skills and whilst it is obviously far too early to think about the future of this piece or that of the quartet my sincerest thoughts and love go out to Emma, Jenny, Laura and Vince’s family at this very difficult time. It’s such a shock and the music world just lost a truly exceptional talent!