Marcus Barcham Stevens
Principal Second Violin
Marcus is also a member of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, and has been co-leader of the Britten Sinfonia since 2013.
He has guest led the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Aurora Orchestra and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and played as Principal 2nd violin for Sir John Eliot Gardiner's Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.
He has broadcast as a soloist on BBC Radio 3. Other groups with which Marcus has played include the Nash Ensemble, Arcangelo, King's Consort, Ensemble Modern, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the English Chamber Orchestra.
He plays in recital with his wife, Scottish pianist Christina Lawrie, and has performed chamber music with Freddy Kempf, Peter Donohoe, Paul Lewis, Alina Ibragimova, Leon McCawley, Paul Watkins, and in New York with Thomas Adès as pianist in music by Adès.
Marcus is also a composer and his piece "Dhyana" for soprano and ensemble was described as "hugely impressive" (George Hall, the Guardian, 2011). He has written various string quartets based on Purcell Fantasias which have been performed by the Fitzwilliam String Quartet.
We caught Marcus for 60 seconds to have a chat...
We’re looking forward to you joining the Orchestra as Principal Second Violin in October. What do you enjoy about playing in a chamber orchestra?
Thank you. I'm excited about taking up the job with the SCO. I loved the two recent Brahms symphonies I played with the SCO, Brahms 3 with Robin Ticciati and Brahms 4 with Emmanuel Krivine. Close musical communication and interaction is what attracts me to chamber orchestras, as well as the repertoire, especially baroque/classical and 20th century.
You’re also Second Violin in the Fitzwilliam String Quartet. What’s the difference between playing in a quartet and playing in a chamber orchestra?
There are lots of parallels. One's role in a quartet is constantly shifting between principal melodic line, supporting counter melody, accompanying role, rhythmic, harmonic function etc. It requires a heightened sense of awareness of the other voices and of the whole score. And of course great chamber orchestras play like this too - the SCO and Fitzwilliam quartet share this commitment to the score and to the music.
Did you always want to be a violinist?
Pretty much. From about the age of 10 I was bowled over by 2 recordings: Beethoven's Violin Concerto by Arthur Grumiaux and Sibelius' Violin Concerto by Christian Ferras, which made me want to be a violinist. Other things I have thought about being are composer, going into the church or the Foreign Office.
We’re giving you a time machine. Which period or moment in musical history would you travel to and why?
Leipzig in the 1720s. Or more specifically, 1723-26 in the Thomas Kirche. Imagine seeing Bach every Sunday conduct his latest cantata which he had just composed that week.