Giotto at the Guildhall – a conversation through music

1 Apr 2021

“We really liked playing at the Guildhall,
it was a really lovely event.”

Founded in 2017, Giotto is an ensemble of four experienced string players living in Bury St. Edmunds. Exploring the rich repertoire for string quartets, Giotto’s members are Rachel Sokolowski, Jan Halen, Jessamy Skrimshire and Janet Banks. The composers they are inspired by, from Beethoven to Piazzolla, form an exquisite collection of works for their performance. At the Guildhall in October 2019, Giotto played professionally and profoundly as they communicated the depths of classical music through harmonic exchange.

“We have very good memories of the concert we did at the Guildhall and had been looking forward to another in April 2020 until lockdown came along.”

Giotto’s event at the Guildhall was a memorable occasion. Following their afternoon recital in the Court Room, the quartet had a chance to talk to their audience over cream tea in the Banqueting Hall. Having filled the room, Giotto had drawn in people from beyond Bury, including Cambridge and Ipswich, and thoroughly enjoyed receiving feedback. Giotto’s impression of the Guildhall was very positive, and they hoped to have returned in April 2020. For the quartet, the Court Room was the perfect venue; it allowed a good-sized audience whilst retaining a sense of intimacy and the wood panels beautifully complemented the instruments, creating a lovely acoustic.

With Rachel and Jan on the violin, Jessamy on the viola and Janet on the cello, the quartet’s members are all busy teaching their instrument when they are not rehearsing or performing together. Their well-established music careers came together in November 2017 when they began playing together as a string quartet. Since then they have performed in a variety of local venues, including St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury Unitarian Meeting House and St Peter ad Vincula Church in Coggeshall, and even had a quartet piece dedicated to them by Nigel Tuft.

“Playing in a quartet is a unique experience.”

Rachel, Jan, Jessamy and Janet all love being part of Giotto and having the chance to play the wonderful music made for quartets. They see the quartet as an ensemble that creates a supportive, fulfilling and special experience for each player. As a small collective it provides scope for collaboration yet enables each player to have their own voice. Describing it as a ‘conversation with music’, the group passes ideas around and communicates as equals as they play, leading to a creative and intimate way of making music. This union between the players resulted in an engagingly cohesive performance at the Guildhall. Whilst their second recital at the Guildhall was cancelled in April 2020, we hope to welcome Giotto Quartet back again soon.

To find out more about Giotto and their upcoming events please click here.

Quotes from interview with Giotto. Interview by Rosie Grant.