Balanescu Quartet

Balanescu Quartet is an avant-garde string ensemble formed in 1987. Current members are Alexander Bălănescu (violin), James Shenton (violin), Helen Kamminga (viola) and Nick Holland (cello).[1]

Balanescu Quartet
Years active1987 (1987)–present
Past members
Katie Wilkinson

Group history

The Quartet was initially formed by Alexander Bălănescu (violin), Clare Connors (second violin), Bill Hawkes (viola), and Caroline Dale (cello).[2]

Since its formation in 1987, the Balanescu Quartet has acquired a reputation as one of the world's leading contemporary music ensembles with a worldwide cult following. Its guiding force has been the Romanian virtuoso violinist and composer Alexander Balanescu, who has led the quartet across musical frontiers into new unchartered territory. This search to push the limits of the string quartet, has revealed an ensemble with a sensibility nearer to a band rather than a classical group, and reflects Balanescu's passionate belief in the intercommunication and fluidity between different musical fields.

From its roots as collaborators with composers such as Michael Nyman and Gavin Bryars, through projects with Lounge Lizard John Lurie, Jack de Johnette, Ornette Coleman, David Byrne, the Pet Shop Boys, Spiritualized, Kate Bush and Kraftwerk, they have developed their own unique writing and performing style setting them apart from any other string quartet. Their live performances are notable for their sheer energy and dynamism. They have played in locations as wildly contrasting as London's South Bank Centre and New York's Knitting Factory - they even opened to 10000 Pet Shop Boys fans at Wembley Arena, and are constantly looking for venues in which to present their music in a new context. They performed the current version of University Challenge's title music (since 2000) on BBC2 in the UK.

Their early albums were on Mute Records and Argo Records (UK).


  • Possessed (1992)[3]
  • Luminitza (1994)
  • Angels & Insects (1995) (soundtrack)
  • East Meets East (1997)
  • Maria T (2005)
  • This Is The Balanescu Quartet (2011)
  • Balanescu (2019)
  • Michael Nyman - String Quartets 1-3 - featuring the Balanescu Quartet (1991)
  • Balanescu Quartet Play Byrne/Moran/Lurie/Torke - featuring David Byrne, Robert Moran, John Lurie and Michael Torke (1992)
  • Geoff Smith - Gas • Food • Lodging - featuring the Balanescu Quartet (1993)
  • Kevin Volans - String Quartets Nos. 2 & 3 - performed by the Balanescu Quartet (1994)
  • Gavin Bryars - The Last Days - featuring the Balanescu Quartet (1995)
  • Spiritualized - Pure Phase (1995)
  • Rabih Abou-Khalil - Arabian Waltz - featuring the Balanescu String Quartet (2002)
  • Optimo - How To Kill The DJ (Part 2) - featuring music by the Balanescu Quartet (2004)
  • Michael Torke - Six - featuring the Balanescu Quartet (2005)
  • Stateless - Matilda featuring the Balanescu Quartet (2011)
  • Ada Milea & Alexander Balanescu - The Island - featuring the Balanescu Quartet (2011)
  • Teho Teardo - Diaz - featuring the Balanescu Quartet (2012) (soundtrack)


  1. "Balanescu Quartet: "25 Years"". Palace of Arts, Budapest. 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  2. "Balanescu Quartet - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  3. "The Balanescu Quartet - Possessed". Discogs (in French). Retrieved 2017-09-07.
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