The younger members of the Berliner Philharmoniker also uphold the Philharmoniker tradition of becoming involved in chamber music alongside their orchestral activities. In the 2012/13 season, the four musicians Philipp Bohnen and Marlene Ito (violin), Martin von der Nahmer (viola), and Rachel Helleur (cello) founded the Varian Fry Quartet, named after the American journalist and freedom fighter Varian Fry, to devote themselves intensively to the repertoire of the string quartet.
The foundations of this young ensemble had already been laid during the 2007/08 season when three of the four musicians were playing quartets together while students of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Orchestra Academy. The joy of making music together in the supreme discipline of chamber music, and the lessons they had at that time with the late Jan Diesselhorst, cellist with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Philharmonia Quartet, left a lasting impression and a passionate desire to make music in a string quartet of their own. In April 2013, the time had come: The Varian Fry Quartet gave its first public concert at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden – the start of an exciting chamber music journey.