Ensemble in Residence: The Galway ConTempo Quartet

Bogdan Sofei, violin I | Ingrid Nicola, violin II | Andreea Banciu, viola | Adrian Mantu, cello

“Polished and professional group… full of exuberance and with a fine sense of ensemble… real sensitivity…” - The Strad / Wigmore Hall

Formed in 1995 in Bucharest, ConTempo Quartet is recognised as one of the most exciting and vibrant chamber ensembles performing today. The quartet was chosen as Galway Music Residency’s Ensemble in Residence in 2003 and continues to captivate audiences throughout the city and county with its repertoire of classical, contemporary, folk and traditional music.

Following a competitive international audition process, ConTempo Quartet was chosen as GMR’s Ensemble in Residence. This young and vibrant quartet, comprised of two married couples, had formed in Bucharest Romania while studying performance, and already had an impressive career of performances, recordings and awards under its belt. Despite an extremely high standard of applications, this quartet had, as well as its unparalleled musical talent, a spark that made the selection panel believe they were going to bring something truly special to the people of Galway.

Ever since ConTempo Quartet took up its residency in 2003, this has remained true to form, and the quartet is committed to continuing this residency for as long as it can make a positive impact on the lives of its adopted community. This unique partnership over such a long period, has enabled the GMR with ConTempo Quartet to develop long-lasting relationships with individuals, communities, artists and organisations, and to create profound connections throughout the city and county. Focused on performance and education programmes, over the past 16 years GMR with ConTempo Quartet has developed countless opportunities for the people of Galway to engage with music in a meaningful way regardless of their age or circumstance.

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The quartet has won a record 14 International prizes in competitions, including 1st Prize at GrosserForderpreise Competition in Munich-Germany, 1st Prize at Valentino Bucchi competition in Rome-Italy, 1st Prize at Tunnel Trust Competition in London-UK, 1st Prize at Mozart competition in Romania, 2nd Prize at Johannes Brahms International Competition in Hamburg-Germany, Audience Prize and 3rd Prize at London String Quartet Competition in UK, 3rd Prize at Schubert und die Musik der Moderne Competition in Graz-Austria, 3rd Prize at Max Reger Competition in Weimar-Germany, The Wigmore Award-London and The Romanian Musical Critics Union Prize in Bucharest.

In 2013 ConTempo Quartet was  appointed RTÉ’s Quartet in Residence and in 2016 the members of the quartet were awarded Honorary Doctorates in Music from NUI Galway for their service to Galway in the areas of music performance and education.

The Quartet

BOGDAN SOFEI

Violin 1

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BOGDAN SOFEI

Bogdan is the leader and a founding member of ConTempo Quartet. Bogdan graduated from the University of Music in Bucharest where he studied with Ladislau Csendes and Stefan Gheorghiu. He continued his studies at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, Royal Academy of Music in London, Academia Chigiana in Siena, European Academy of Music in Aix-en Province, Britten - Pierce School for Advanced Music Studies in Aldeburgh and Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia in Madrid. In addition, Bogdan received his MA in Music at Cork School of Music, in 2005. On 10th June 2016 Bogdan and his colleagues from ConTempo Quartet were awarded a Doctorate of Music (honoris causa) by the National University of Ireland, Galway for their contribution to music and education in the West of Ireland. As the leader of ConTempo Quartet, he has studied with the most celebrated string quartets in the world including Amadeus, Alban Berg, Tokyo, Emerson and Hagen Quartets and with musicians such as Diemut Poppen, Petra Mullejans, Piero Farulli, David Takeno, Laurence Lesser and Gilbert Kalish. Bogdan has won several international and national competitions in Italy and Romania, as well as numerous international prizes as first violinist of ConTempo Quartet. He has toured the world extensively, performing at many major international festivals in Europe, Canada, and the United States.

INGRID NICOLA

Violin 2

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INGRID NICOLA

Ingrid Nicola is a violinist and founding member of ConTempo quartet. She is a chamber music visiting teacher at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and has taught at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Gedai University of Music Tokyo, DIT and Cork School of Music. Ingrid graduated from the University of Music in Bucharest where she studied with Daniel Podlovschi and Ladislau Csendes. She continued her studies through various residencies including the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, Royal Academy of Music in London, Accademia Chigiana in Siena, European Academy of Music in Aix-en Province, Britten, Pierce School for Advanced Music Studies in Aldeburgh and Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia in Madrid. Ingrid received her Masters of Arts in Music with First Class Honours at Cork School of Music in 2005. In 2015, Ingrid was awarded a Diploma in Child Psychology(O.A.DIP). On 10th June 2016 Ingrid and her colleagues from ConTempo Quartet were awarded Doctorates of Music (honoris causa) by the National University of Ireland, Galway for their contribution to music and education in the West of Ireland. Ingrid has studied with some of the most celebrated string quartets of the world, such as Amadeus, Alban Berg, Tokyo, Emerson and Hagen quartets, and with musicians such as Diemut Poppen, Petra Mullejans, Piero Farulli, David Takeno, Laurence Lesser and Gilbert Kalish. As part of ConTempo Quartet, Ingrid has won 14 International Prizes in Chamber Music Competitions (London, Munich, Berlin, Prague, Graz, Hamburg, Rome). She has performed over 2000 concerts around the world in 42 countries. Since September 2018, Ingrid has been a conductor and teacher for Galway Youth Orchestra.

ANDREEA BANCIU

Viola

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ANDREEA BANCIU

Andreea Banciu is the violist and a founding member of the ConTempo Quartet. She has also been a chamber music visiting teacher at the Royal Irish Academy of Music since 2014. As part of ConTempo Quartet, Andreea has won 14 International Prizes in Chamber Music Competitions (London, Munich, Berlin, Prague, Graz, Hamburg, Rome). She has performed over 2000 concerts around the world in 42 countries (in venues such as Wigmore Hall, Berlin Philharmonic, Tel-Aviv Opera, Gedai Tokyo, NCH) performing a huge range of String Quartet works and many concertos (including Bach, Telemann, Mozart, Weber, Elgar, Williams & Howells). Andreea has appeared in two feature films as a supporting actress including “Trop tard”, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. On 10th June 2016 Andreea and her colleagues from ConTempo Quartet were awarded Doctorates of Music (honoris causa) by the National University of Ireland, Galway for their contribution to music and education in the West of Ireland. Andreea loves Seafood chowder, a good flat white with some home-made rhubarb or apple tart and fresh cream; having breakfast in a Connemara café or a picnic in a rose garden; smelling the roses on a nice summer day; going for a walk on the beach; old castles; playing music with friends and dreaming about wandering Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

ADRIAN MANTU

Cello

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ADRIAN MANTU

Adrian is the cellist and a founding member of the ConTempo Quartet, Galway's Ensemble in Residence. He is also the curator of Our Tunes/Dublin Music Town and a cello/chamber music Fellow Teacher at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Adrian has won 16 International Prizes in Cello & Chamber Music Competitions (London, Munich, Berlin, Prague, Bucharest, Graz, Hamburg, Sofia, Rome). He has performed over 2000 concerts around the world in 46 countries (in venues such as Wigmore Hall, Berlin Philharmonic, Tel-Aviv Opera, Carnegie Hall, Gedai Tokyo, NCH) performing a huge range of works including the Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Bartok & Shostakovich String Quartet Cycles and the essential cello concertos. Adrian composed and arranged the music for feature film “Trop Tard”, which was selected for Cannes Film Festival. Adrian is currently completing a DMusPerf at Trinity/Royal Irish Academy of Musis focusing on the string quartet literature in Ireland, one hundred years after the Rising. On 10th June 2016 Adrian and his colleagues from the ConTempo Quartet were awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music (honoris causa) for their contribution to music peforrmance and education in the West of Ireland by the National University of Ireland, Galway.