Having burst into life during the summer of 2010, Daniel’s Beard swiftly established themselves as one of Scotland’s busiest chamber ensembles. Made up of players who are familiar faces in all of Scotland’s orchestras, the group's first rehearsals and concerts took place in Cottier's Theatre, which was also the main venue for the festival which Daniel's Beard hosted, The Cottier Chamber Project. Named after the impressive facial hair of Daniel Cottier, the pioneering 19th century designer responsible for the interior of the theatre, the group has built up a reputation for tackling the major works of the chamber music repertoire alongside pieces that are less frequently heard, encompassing music from the baroque period up to the present day.
Daniel’s Beard has a core instrumentation of violin, viola, clarinet, horn, cello and piano, based on the scoring for Ernő von Dohnányi’s epic Sextet, which was recorded on the Meridian label in 2011. The line-up allows for great flexibility in programming, so Daniel’s Beard has appeared as a trio (both horn, violin and piano and as a piano trio), a quartet (piano and strings, a string quartet or violin, clarinet, cello and piano), a quintet (wind quintet, horn and strings, clarinet and strings or violin, cello, clarinet, horn and piano), a sextet, and has expanded to a septet (for Beethoven’s Septet) and an Octet (for Schubert’s Octet). The starting point for any Daniel’s Beard concert is summed up by musicologist Alfred Einstein’s description of chamber music as ‘the music of friends’.
As the host ensemble for The Cottier Chamber Project, Daniel’s Beard have taken a leading role in raising the profile of chamber music in Scotland. Following the highly successful pilot series in 2010’s West End Festival, the series expanded the following year to include 16 other ensembles, becoming the UK’s biggest chamber music festival in the process. The series has continued to grow, with Daniel's Beard giving 6 concerts and inviting 22 other groups to join them in 2012, and 28 other ensembles in 2013. The 2014 festival expanded to include a dance programme, and in 2015 The Cottier Chamber Project became an independent festival in its own right. The dates for 2016 are the 3rd - 25th June - click the logo to visit the website and browse the programme.
The ensemble’s first CD, featuring music by McGuire, Wilson and Dohnányi, was released by Meridian Records in June 2011, and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Scotland, with a second disc profiling the chamber music of Christopher Rathbone released in January 2013. Daniel's Beard has also given several live broadcasts on BBC Radio Scotland and as part of BBC Radio 3's Lunchtime Concert series.