Amber Quartet: an up-and-coming string quartet to watch

Having won the first prize at the Asia-Pacific Chamber Music Competition in Melbourne, Australia in 2013 and the first ever Chinese quartet to have won an international chamber music competition, the Amber Quartet has been catapulted into international fame. They celebrate their 10th year anniversary since its formation in 2007 at the Central Conservatory of Music in China with a concert at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music on 28 February 2017 as part of the Ones to Watch Series, supported by the Shaw Foundation.

Violist Wang Qi gives us insights on the landscapes of chamber music in China as well as the unique programme for their upcoming debut concert.


Share with us your plans for the future.

The Quartet has two long-term goals we wish to accomplish – to improve China’s pedagogy for chamber music and enhance the appreciation of classical chamber music. In China, professional chamber music groups, especially quartets are less common as they have only gained recognition over the last few decades. The focus has also been on developing solo talents and less emphasis on music cooperation. We believe that by forming a system of pedagogy modelled after best practices of the European tradition will allow students to receive a better-structured professional training in this area. 

Could you tell us more about the quartet’s debut programme in Singapore?

For the concert, we chose these pieces as they were representatives of three different periods. Webern represents the New Viennese School of Music (alongside Schoenberg and Berg) with Langsamer Satz as one of the most accessible works in the period. Listen out for the slow movement which has a beautiful melody with a new element of harmony. Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in F minor is undoubtedly representative of the Romantic Period. 

Our favourite piece is Totem, a contemporary Chinese composition, because it blends Chinese folk elements with modern string techniques. It is a programmatic work with each movement named after a character associated with different ancient rural areas in China. We use many experimental techniques such as knocking the strings with our fingertips and palms amongst many others. It will be a magical and exciting experience!