Dr Val Welbanks
Canadian-born cellist Val Welbanks leads a busy international chamber music career – her performances and research have earned her a reputation for thoughtful performances of contemporary music. As cellist of the Marsyas Trio, her Artist By-Fellowship at Churchill College this academic year will focus on extending the group’s work exploring the historic tradition of ‘musical translation’. The ensemble will also continue working with Cambridge-based composers, and developing their practice of performing with electronic music.
Val is a founding member of the Marsyas Trio, which has since 2009 been devoted to the discovery and promotion of the repertoire for the flute, cello and piano. With a wide breadth of music that ranges from historical women composers to experimental music with electronics, over a decade of work has seen the ensemble collaborate with many of the UK’s leading composers, including Michael Finnissy, Judith Weir, Elena Firsova and Laura Bowler.
Concert highlights with the trio include international touring and live TV and Radio, including BBC Radio 3 and Switzerland’s RTS Espace2. Their discography includes A Triple Portrait (Meridian Records 2015), and In the Theatre of Air (NMC Recordings, 2018), which debuted at No. 7 on the classical charts. The disc received international airplay and reviews in The Strad, Tempo, the Sunday Times, BBC Music Magazine and Gramophone. An upcoming CD with the Metier label is planned for release in 2024.
With eighteen funding awards to their name, including from Arts Council England, the VW Trust, PRS for Music and Britten-Pears Foundations, the Marsyas Trio has been heading collaborative projects the most recent of which involves a CD of several new works by Michael Finnissy and a children’s radio play by Robin Haigh, which has been narrated by Janey Godley and Ed Balls.
Val is also the cellist of the Ligeti Quartet, which has held residencies at the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield and Goldsmiths University of London, as well as Nottingham High School. This year they are showcasing all of György Ligeti’s string music for the centenary of his birth, and they are touring music by Anna Meredith to promote their latest CD. The Quartet has recorded for the Nonclassical and Mercury KX labels.
Val also regularly plays with the London Contemporary Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of London to record scores for film and television, and has recorded several discs with the Longbow Ensemble and GPlus Ensemble.
In 2016, Val completed her PhD thesis Foundations of Modern Cello Technique, codifying extended techniques for cello (Goldsmiths, University of London) under the supervision of composer Roger Redgate, and previously the late cellist Alexander Ivashkin. Her thesis has presently over 14,000downloads, and is being used by composition teachers and students, as well as cellists interested in contemporary music, around the world.