The longevity of the Vanbrugh Quartet is due in no small part to the Irish people. As students of the 1980s in London the young Vanbrugh quartet responded to a newspaper advertisement for the position of a resident string quartet to the national broadcaster of Ireland (RTÉ). Beating off stiff competition they secured one of the most durable and creative positions in quartet history. The residency in Cork has existed since the 1950s, and in 1986 the Vanbrugh were the fourth quartet in succession to accept the honour. The creative environment of county Cork, combined with the encouragement they received from the Irish musical establishment, and a loyal following, have all nurtured their progress from students, via international competition successes, to becoming established on the professional international classical music scene. Their appointment as artists-in-residence to the National University of Ireland at University College Cork since 1991 has helped secure their position as Ireland’s longest established professional chamber ensemble. For this they are eternally grateful.
Their landmark first prize in the Yehudi Menhuin London International String Quartet Competition in 1988 launched their international career. Numerous commercial recordings followed culminating in the complete cycle of Beethoven string quartets released in 1996. That same year they co-founded the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Bantry, now frequented by the most bespoke musicians on the chamber music circuit. Situated on Ireland’s mystical south-west coast, the festival today is a beacon of excellence for top performers, music lovers, and young musicians alike.
In 2015 the Vanbrugh Quartet established the National String Quartet Foundation as their legacy. The foundation aspires to support string quartets, chamber musicians, and composers of the present and future generations.