In 2011, Afton Strings regulars Mark Wilson and Nina Kopparhed joined forces with the wonderful cellist Ilse McFarlane to form the Afton String Trio, with the aim of bringing beautiful and sometimes underperformed repertoire to the concert platform.
When joined by the renowned viola player Michael Beeston (formerly of the Edinburgh Quartet) in 2013, Afton Strings found its ideal format:
in the same concert, they can perform as either - a string trio, - trio with soprano (as Nina is also a professional soprano), or - string quartet!
It's an exciting setup that is quite unusual and which makes Afton Strings stand out as a uniquely flexible recital quartet. This combination has proven very successful in recital and very popular with the audiences.
"This was an ensemble that clearly loved the music, enjoyed playing together and captured the audience under its spell. The quality of the music-making was compelling"
Between them, the players have many years of top level chamber music experience, giving recitals all over Europe, as well as in the US and Brazil. Working with various ensembles, including duos, piano trios, string trios and quartets they are comfortable in many different musical styles, from authentic baroque performance to jazz and contemporary music.
Please see below for examples of their programmes and video clips.
Borodin: String Trio in G minor,
Robert Fuchs: String Trio in A major, Op. 94,
Gideon Klein: String Trio
Ernest John Moeran:String Trio in G major
Dohnanyi: Serenade in C major for String Trio, Op. 10
Gideon Klein: String Trio
Hans Krasa: Tanec: Dance for String Trio
Hans Krasa: Passacaglia and Fugue for String Trio (1944)
Am mein Herz,
Der Tod und das Madchen, Gretchen am Spinnrade,
Der Schmetterling and
Der Hirt aus dem Felsen.
Schubert: String Quartet
"Der Tod und das Madchen"
Moeran: String Trio
Elgar Sting Quartet
Songs and lieder by composers from all around the UK, including:
Works by composers most famous for their operas:
Humperdinck: String Quartet
Wagner: Siegfried Idyll
Lieder, songs and arias by Puccini, Rossini, Donizetti, Mozart.
A Medley from "Simply Schubert", recorded live at the Moffat Music Society, October 2013, featuring Nina Kopparhed, soprano, with Afton Strings.
MOFFAT MUSIC SOCIETY CONCERT
"Moffat Music Society enjoyed a delightfully unusual evening on Friday 4th March in the company of Nina Kopparhed (soprano and violin) and the Afton String Trio, comprising Mark Wilson (1st violin), Michael Beeston (viola) and Ilse McFarlane (’cello). The programme, entitled British Idyll, included works by Vaughan Williams, E.J. Moeran, Frank Bridge and Elgar.
A particular delight was the fact that we had the premiere of Canadian Boat Song by none other than the first violinist, Mark Wilson, in which he accompanied his wife, Nina Kopparhed, who sang it beautifully.
Yorkshire pianist and composer Neil Crossland had written a song setting especially for this concert, a poised and poignant piece entitled A Dream Within A Dream.The words, by Edgar Allan Poe, were again exquisitely rendered by Nina.
Nina really came into her own in her performance of three songs by Frank Bridge, who was a tutor of Benjamin Britten. It was unusual to hear the songs, including the famous Love Went a-Riding, accompanied by strings rather than piano.
The string trio then morphed into a quartet, with Nina taking up 2nd violin, to perform Skyeline lll by John Purser, who had travelled from his home on Skye to introduce and hear his piece at this recital. Without a doubt it evoked the landscape of his home.
The evening finished with Elgar’s String Quartet Op. 83, a truly lovely work with an absolutely divine middle movement which Lady Elgar described as “captured sunshine”. She certainly was not exaggerating, and it was played at her funeral in 1920. This was a perfect end to a delightful evening.
The standard throughout was extraordinarily fine both musically and technically, not least in the fiendishly difficult Moeran String Trio which appeared effortless.
The general excellence of the concert was all the more remarkable given that the performers had, earlier in the day, held a workshop at Moffat Academy with assistance from pupils from Dollar Academy. The workshop was also enjoyed by some pupils from Lockerbie Academy.
Moffat Music Society is, as ever, most grateful to Enterprise Music Scotland, whose generous funding has made this concert possible."
"There was a magical clarity of interwoven lines, supporting and commenting upon [Nina's] beautifully nuanced and well-characterized singing. This was an ensemble that clearly loved the music, enjoyed playing together and captured the audience under its spell. The quality of the music-making was compelling as we became increasingly aware of fusion of subtly changing colours and dynamics of independent parts. And on top of this was [Nina's] gift of using voice, facial expression and discreet body language to convey the changing emotions and moods the songs demanded. The music came alive and I, for one, heard them in a new light. I have never heard a better performance of the Shepherd on the Rock, live or on disc.
The performance of the Death and the Maiden quartet was simply magnificent. We were entranced, involved and deeply satisfied by the experience.
...I have had exceptional feedback from members of last night’s audience, all of them overwhelmed by the friendly and informative atmosphere created, and the wonderful music they heard."