AS one of the longest running string quartets in the world David Waterman must have been asked the same question time and time again.

Turns out he has!

That said, when four classical musicians have been together for almost 40 years, touring all over the world, you can’t help but wonder how they’ve managed it for so long, without having any arguments or losing their popularity.

“When we got together,” David tells me, “we just wanted to have fun making music. Playing in a quartet is an amazing thing to do and not for one minute would we imagine it would go on this long. To be honest, we’re all surprised that it has.

“I think the key to our longevity is two-fold. Firstly there’s a fairly equitable temperament between us all, where we are able to resolve conflicts and disagreements if and when they arise, and the other element is our relationship with the audience.

“You have to play well enough together in order to communicate something to the audience and we’ve been fortunate to be able to do that.

“It’s funny when people say our success is down to the fact we’ve been playing as a group for such a long time but I’d like to think we were pretty good in the first place otherwise we wouldn’t have been booked to play all these concerts and festivals.”

And they’ve certainly done that.

The Endellion is renowned as one of the finest quartets in the world. Three of its original founding members, violinist Andrew Watkinson, violist Garfield Jackson and David, who plays the cello, continue to play in the quartet, which began in 1979 while Ralph de Souza, who also plays violin joined them 31 years ago in 1986.

In Britain, the Endellion String Quartet has appeared at nearly all of the major series and festivals and has broadcast many times on BBC radio and television.

They have appeared at the Proms and been featured in the week-long Radio 3 programmes ‘Artist of the Week’ and ‘Artists in Focus’.

Their presence in London has been marked for many years by an annual series at Wigmore Hall, and also by appearances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall where the Quartet members were Artistic Directors of several ‘Quartet Plus’ series.

The Endellion also continues its prestigious Residency at Cambridge University which began in 1991, gives a regular Spring series at The Venue Leeds and recently began a new series at Balliol College, Oxford.

The quartet’s international schedule has included tours of North and South America and concerts in Australasia, the Far East, Middle East, South Africa and Western Europe with one of its most prestigious concert series being a Beethoven Cycle at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“I think one of the biggest and best things we’ve ever done as a quartet is the Beethoven cycle,” he adds. “We recorded it for Warner Classics in their 30th year.

“They included rarely heard works, movements, studies, and fragments. Stuff you would never in a concert and it was a real thrill to do it.”

Originally from Leeds, David was born into a musical family with his mother a pianist and teacher and his father, a solicitor by career, an excellent violinist.

David says: “One of my earliest memories is of crawling under the piano and grabbing my mother’s ankles while she practised Brahms 2nd piano concerto.

“After false starts with the piano and the violin I discovered the cello at the age of nine, and was relieved that no-one within the family was qualified to teach me. For most of my teens I was determined not to play music professionally. I studied philosophy for six years at Trinity College, Cambridge, where I became a Research Scholar, was awarded MA and PhD degrees, and ended up as a tutor to philosophy undergraduates.

“At the same time I studied cello privately with Martin Lovett, William Pleeth and Jane Cowan, and having immersed myself in quartet-playing for fun, I began to feel the irresistible urge to pursue it professionally, despite my teenage resolutions. Most of my 20s were spent trying to make up for all the practising I didn’t do as a teenager.”

As part of the Roman River Music Festival’s ongoing concert series at the Mercury, the Endellion Quartet play the Colchester theatre on February 6 at 7.30pm. Tickets are available by calling 01206 573948.