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Professor Nic Pendlebury

Head of String Department


Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Faculty of Music
King Charles Court
Old Royal Naval College
SE10 9JF

Tel: +44 (0)20 8305 4475


Area of Work

Professorial Staff - Viola, Conductor of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance String Ensemble, Sinfonietta, Chamber Orchestra and Sinfonia.
Nic Pendlebury


Nic is Head of the String Department at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where he leads one of the most vibrant string departments in Europe. Embracing a student cohort from around the world his staff includes many of the countries leading musicians. As well as his educational and managerial responsibilities he conducts several of the conservatoire orchestras and ensembles including Trinity Laban’s String Ensemble. With them, he has given performances both nationally and internationally including the Ljubliana Festival, Italy’s Emilia Romana Festival, Conciertos de las Velas in Peraza Spain and at the Dartington International Summer School. The group has also participated in collaborative projects with Chetham’s School of Music, Wells Cathedral School, and the Yehudi Menuhin School. They have performed with many renown soloists including oboist Nick Daniel, clarinetists Dimitri Ashkenazy and Darko Brlek, pianists William Howard and Helen Reed, violist Rivka Golani, organist David Titterington and jazz saxophonist Julian Arguelles with whom they recorded the critically acclaimed album As Above So Below.

Nic is also the founder and violist of the internationally acclaimed Smith Quartet renowned for their performance of new music and prize winners of the Prudential Award for the Arts. Now into their third decade, they have collaborated with many of the worlds leading musicians including John Adams, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, David Tannenbaum, Andy Sheppard, Django Bates the rock group Pulp and dance companies Siobhan Davies and Shobana Jeyasingh. They regularly perform in many of the worlds most prestigious festivals and leading concert halls. The Smith Quartet record for Signum Classics their first three albums receiving worldwide acclaim. As a violist and a conductor, he has worked with many of London’s leading orchestras including London Mozart Players, English Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, English Sinfonia, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra. The more observant viewer may also have seen Nic playing the part of a ghost in Anthony Minghella’s film Truly, Madly, Deeply.

* Conferred with the title of Professor in January 2017.

the smith quartet

Steve Reich - Different Trains (II. Europe - During the War)

Qualifications/ Educational Background

Nic Pendlebury was born in Cambridge and at the age nine won a scholarship to study at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester where he studied violin with Carmel Kaine and Richard Deakin. Whilst at school he was a chorister at Manchester Cathedral and after leaving school gained a place at the Royal Northern College of Music to study with Malcolm Layfield. After graduating with a G.R.N.C.M. he moved to Germany to study viola with Hariolf Schlichtig at the Grenzland Institut in Aachen. Whilst studying he was invited to become principal viola with Chur Colnishers Kammer Orchestra in Bonn and was the violist of Ensemble Koln.

Teaching Experience

Nic is an experienced teacher and educationalist and is in great demand as a chamber music coach and conductor. Many of his students have gone on to hold positions in orchestras in the UK and abroad and he has coached many of the countries leading chamber ensembles.

Creative Output

CD recordings:

  • Smith Quartet; Signum Classics – Different Trains (2005),
  • Ghost Stories (2007),
  • Philip Glass Complete String Quartets (2008),
  • Dance ( 2011);
  • Matchless Records – Morton Feldman Complete music for piano and Strings (2010 -);
  • Sony Classical – Karl Jenkins Diamond Music (1996), BMG – Steve Martland Patrol (1994),
  • Decca Argo – Graham Fitkin Slow (1992),
  • Django Bates Good evening …here is the news (1996),
  • Lost Marble – Django Bates You live and learn….apparently (2004): For full Smith Quartet discography visit
  • TV – BBC –  Holocaust – A Music Memorial Concert from Auschwitz (Documentary 2005 winner of BAFTA and EMMY)
  • Radio – The Smith Quartet regularly record and broadcast for the BBC and are regular contributors to the arts magazine programme In Tune


  • Sony Classical – Karl Jenkins Imagined Oceans (1998),
  • Provocateur – Julian Arguelles As above so below, TCM String Ensemble, Non-Classical – Cortical Songs, TCM String Ensemble (2008)

External Appointments

  • Guest Conductor, English Sinfonia (2002 -2004), Music Director, Karl Jenkins Ensemble (1997-1999),
  • External Examining; Royal College of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
  • Festival Directorship; Co-artistic director of the Isleworth Festival [1994-1997], Greenwich International String Quartet Festival (2009 – ongoing)
  • Boards; European String Teachers Association, London String Quartet Foundation.


Nic has been responsible for the commissioning of over 60 string quartets for the Smith Quartet and has also commissioned several new works for the Trinity Laban String Ensemble.

the smith quartet

Material Men redux - Shobana Jeyasingh