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A British classical crossover string quartet similar in style to Bond, Escala made their album debut in 2009 after garnering fame on the television show Britain's Got Talent. Based in London, the quartet is comprised of Tasya Hodges (cello), Izzy Johnston (violin), Chantal Leverton (viola), and Victoria Lyon (violin). Prior to the founding of Escala, Johnston and Leverton were group members of Wild, a classical crossover quintet that released one album, Time (2005), and was likewise often compared to Bond. Hodges, Johnston, Leverton, and Lyon first collaborated as part of the string section employed for the 2005 arena tour of British pop band McFly. Upon the subsequent founding of Escala, the quartet was cast to compete on the second season of the Simon Cowell-hosted ITV talent show Britain's Got Talent in 2008. While they fell short of winning the season, Escala reached the finals, in which they performed a version of "Palladio" by composer Karl Jenkins before losing to first-place winner George Sampson. In the wake of the quartet's performance on Britain's Got Talent, Escala were signed to a lucrative recording contract with Sony BMG. Produced by British hitmaker Trevor Horn, the quartet's eponymous album debut, Escala (2009), was a colossal commercial success upon its release, reaching number two on the U.K. albums chart and spawning a Top 40 hit on the U.K. singles chart with "Palladio." Comprised primarily of well-known covers such as Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" (featuring lead guitarist Slash of Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver fame), Wings' "Live and Let Die," and Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, the album was on the other hand savaged by critics and generated some controversy for including numerous songs already covered by similarly styled classical crossover group Bond in years past. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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