Tania Davis hails from Sydney, Australia and is Bond's first violinist. Tania was awarded several music scholarships and holds a Bachelor of Music degree with First Class Honours from the Sydney Conservatorium and a Postgraduate Diploma in Performance with Distinction from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. Prior to co-founding Bond and signing a contract with Decca/Universal, this virtuoso violinist, writer and producer performed with internationally acclaimed, award winning chamber groups and orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Bond co-founder Eos Chater, from Cardiff, holds an honours degree from the Royal College of Music, where she won prizes for chamber music performance. Before signing to Universal, she worked with chamber groups dedicated to performing music by living composers. A singer, composer, arranger and producer in her own right, she has written for film and commercials, has played on many film scores, and recorded solo violin for several award winning national TV programmes. Eos has worked with artists including Sir Paul McCartney, Badly Drawn Boy, Tinie Tempah, The Cocteau Twins, The Blockheads, The Divine Comedy, Nitin Sawhney and Julian Cope. Eos has recently cast, coordinated and mentored musicians for The film Hunky Dory starring Minnie Driver (national release autumn 2011) on which she also worked as production assistant.
Viola/5 string violin
Elspeth Hanson has enjoyed travelling the world since joining Bond. She famously performed with guitar legend, Jimmy Page, and Leona Lewis at the Beijing Olympics Closing Ceremony. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music, has played at the Proms with the National Youth Orchestra and has recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Prague Philharmonia. She played solo at the Paralympics Closing Ceremony and has performed at the Southbank alongside Annie Lennox, Beverley Knight and Ruby Wax for Oxfam Aid. Elspeth is a proud ambassador for the charity, Wooden Spoon.
Gay-Yee Westerhoff, co-founder of Bond, is from Yorkshire, England, and is the quartet's cellist. Gay-Yee holds an Honours degree in Music from Trinity College in London. Before Bond's rise to fame after signing with Decca/Universal, Gay-Yee worked all over the world with groups including Primal Scream, the Spice Girls, Talvin Singh, Embrace, Sting, Bryan Adams and Barry Manilow. Gay-Yee is a prolific composer, arranger and producer and is currently working on several composing projects, including a musical with the legendary Don Black.
The original electric string quartet
Over 4 million albums sold
The best-selling string quartet
in the history of the music industry
Together Tania Davis (Violin), Eos Chater (violin), Elspeth Hanson (viola) and Gay-Yee Westerhoff (cello) complete the line-up of BOND.
Since Bond's original debut, the quartet has sold well over 4 million records worldwide, making it the best-selling string quartet of all time. The group draws its inspiration from classical, latin, folk, jazz, rock, pop, electro, Indian and middle eastern styles and has built a very active and loyal fan base over the years.
Bond has made countless international TV appearances in the UK, America, Australia,
Central America and Asia, including BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, CNN, FOX News, BBC, ITV, RAI, ZDF, NBC, Canal Plus, MTV, NHK, CCT, ABC, TF1, CBC, Televisa etc......the list is endless. As well as appearing on major TV shows, Bond has hosted CNN's the Music Room, performed at the MTV Awards in Asia and the USA and participated in televised performances at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Bond has also graced the pages of most major newspapers and magazines throughout the world and has travelled the globe several times over in sell-out tours. The girls have performed at numerous Bond film openings and have featured in several movies including Johnny English and XXX: State Of The Union starring Samuel L. Jackson, Ice Cube and Willem Dafoe.
At their launch, Bond was hailed in the UK press as "the Spice Girls of Classical music" ". The quartet fast became a musical phenomenon, selling millions of albums and the unique sound spawned many electric string groups inspired by its sound. The Bond girls, all educated at some of the world's most celebrated music institutions (Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Guildhall and Trinity College of Music) are pure entertainment; a genuinely genre-defying act willing to explore the joy of music regardless of the cultural hamstrings.
These sassy string players, who truly shook up the world of classical crossover music, achieved a staggering 56 platinum and 15 gold discs (including in the UK, USA, Australia, Japan, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, UK, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Colombia, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Philippines and Chile). Now celebrating their 10th year anniversary, it is safe to say that Bond became a truly international phenomenon; often copied but never equalled.
Now is a perfect time to reflect on the career that placed its members at the top of the classical/pop tree. Lead violinist Tania Davis begins, 'performing with Pavarotti singing Caruso and playing the Sydney Opera House were beyond special for me,' she notes. Cellist, Gay-Yee Westerhoff, adds, 'we have played in front of the magnificent Giza Pyramids several times, including last year to help Zaha Hadid celebrate her magnificent new building in Cairo'. 'We were so proud to make our debut at the Royal Albert Hall', says violinist Eos Chater, "and then there was Wall Street, when we were styled by Patricia Field [of Sex and The City fame] - we arrived in convertible Lincolns, stopping off and playing before ringing the closing bell. Then it was straight off to play in Time Square!' 'And Beijing, at the Olympics handover,' chirps in newest Bond member, Elspeth Hanson.
They have only three of the seven wonders of the world to play before clocking in for a full house. 'My cello,' jokes Gay-Yee, 'has taken me all the way from Hull to Holland Park.' And, of course way, way beyond.
How did all this happen? At the turn of the millennium, four music college students decided to break with convention. The possibility of using their own naturally energetic and compelling performance aspect and becoming as dazzlingly contemporary and relevant as a pop act were impossible to resist. Perhaps a third way, somewhere between pop and classical, really did exist? 'In an orchestra, you are, to a large extent, fulfilling someone else's creative vision,' says Tania. 'With what we do, we are the producers and the artists, directing the process.'
In an era when classical crossover has transformed magically into Saturday night prime-time entertainment, it is all but impossible to remember what controversy Bond caused when they first broke through the fourth wall of the classical world and smashed its glass ceiling as sexy, glamorous, provocative young women lending a little gloss to the genre. Within a week of their debut album hitting number one on the classical charts, it was banned for 'not being classical enough'.
'It started this huge debate about what constituted classical music,' say Eos, 'which was a good thing - at least our record label thought so because the story was everywhere! We found ourselves the subject of this international news story, which ran and ran, from the UK through Europe, to Australasia and America." "We weren't that surprised. We'd written songs with pop producers and with that market in mind. But, we didn't actually ever call ourselves classical,' says Gay-Yee, 'In America, Billboard actually had a crossover classical chart which works really well for acts like us and stops people getting too upset from a purist point of view. But our stuff always set out to be popular.'
And it has been. It isn't just the dizzying locations that have been afforded to Bond as a backdrop for their music that should be included in their history. With their recordings, BOND became the most successful classical crossover instrumentalists in the industry's history.
Because they have never been hampered by the restrictions of language, their highly energetic cross-pollination of pop and classical music has traversed the globe and they have achieved unprecedented platinum status in over 60 countries and topped the classical charts across the globe.
For Gay-Yee, 'being the first of this kind of group was exciting. It's great to see quartets and groups coming through in the Bond format now and one of the best things about being in the quartet is the constant feedback from students, teachers and kids who have engaged in string instruments through the use of our music. That is so gratifying.'
Says Elspeth, 'Bond's accessibility really helped many musicians and music students who didn't have a strictly classical career in mind'. Tania recalls, 'we saw Els at the Beijing Olympics, performing alongside Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis as David Beckham kicked a ball into infinity - she could clearly play and looked fabulous so we had our manager call her'. Adds Elsepth, 'there are still many musicians who crave the epic thrill of a huge orchestra, but if you look to different routes it certainly isn't frowned upon any longer. There are more options now for classical musicians because of Bond. You can only imagine how excited I was when I got the call!'
With a new four piece line-up in place and gigs around the globe since their last release keeping the women busy, it was time to think about a new album. 'to celebrate our ten years as a quartet,' says Tania.
The quartet was recently commissioned by a major car brand to create a special "BOND" version of the Vivaldi Four Seasons for its launch campaign. Says Gay-Yee, 'It was exciting being back at the centre of the creative process.' 'The reason everyone knows the Four Seasons is because the tunes are so fantastically good,' adds Elspeth. 'And we wanted to turn the melodies on their heads,' adds Eos. The Four Seasons was the starting point of the new album. Before long, they were running through a selection of material that began to reflect the global audience Bond has acquired over the years. As well as original material, pop/classical version of AR Rahman's Jai Ho, made famous through Slumdog Millionaire, sits perfectly next to a rewiring of the original string line from the Rolling Stones The Last Time (better known as The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony). The Bollywood excursion was simply returning a favour after the first Bond hit, Victory, had been covered as the theme tune to a major Bollywood smash. Says Tania, 'Everything fitted perfectly into place in the studio.'
This quartet is clearly excited about the recording, made with long-term collaborator, Magnus Fiennes ('we trust him like a brother'), Graham Stack (of Kylie Minogue, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Take That, Westlife and Girls Aloud fame) and the team at Metrophonic . Says Gay-Yee, 'for a fresh sound, they were unbeatable - we got our hands dirty with this recording: writing, arranging and producing so much of it ourselves. The live experience is always where we've had the best fun and we can't wait to play this new material to our fans!'
In autumn 2011, the quartet will receive the Freedom of the City of London for contributions to the square mile's fundraising efforts for the Lord Mayor's 2011 appeal. Bond's members are proud ambassadors of the children's charity, Coram.