As a national ensemble with agility at its core, the Australian String Quartet (ASQ) is heard by more and more each year. Set to perform three country-wide tours featuring six master works, two world premieres of new Australian music and the return of a much-loved guest, the Australian String Quartet’s 2020 National Tours are set to be a highlight of Australia’s musical calendar.
In a nod to Virginia Woolf’s seminal text A Room of One’s Own, the ASQ’s first tour Dvo?ák with Konstantin Shamray includes Australian composer Anne Cawrse’s new exploration of what it means to be a woman composer in the 21st century. The Quartet then ventures into the dark with Béla Bartók’s String Quartet no 4 before being joined onstage by multi award-winning pianist Konstantin Shamray to end the concert on a radiant high with Antonin Dvo?ák’s joyous Piano Quintet in A major op 81.
Seeking harmony in diversity is a theme that runs through the ASQ’s second tour Intimate Letters, beginning with Mozart’s famous String Quartet no 19, aptly nicknamed Dissonance. One of Australia’s most renowned composers Ross Edwards contributes his fourth string quartet comprising a vast array of musical influences, and Leos Janá?ek’s Intimate Letters refers to over 700 letters the composer wrote to his reluctant muse Kamila Stösslova in what might be the most emotional outpouring of unrequited love ever documented.
The ASQ’s third tour Late Beethoven combines two epic seven-movement quartets back-to-back. Beethoven’s monumental String Quartet in C sharp minor op 131 is a revelation and it was the writing of this great artist that inspired 20th century French composer Henri Dutilleux when creating his only string quartet Ainsi la Nuit, an evocative, poetic and sensuous piece.
Looking beyond its National Tours, the ASQ pays homage to Beethoven in the 250th anniversary year of the composer’s birth by teaming up with renowned experience design studio Sandpit, (a company of designers, developers, artists and engineers behind innovative projects for Google’s Creative Lab, the Australian Centre for Moving Image, Museum Victoria, ACMI, Melbourne Zoo and more) to present an interactive choose-your-own-adventure event culminating in a new and unique Beethoven quartet experience every time. Titled Project Ludwig, this experience will pop up in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.
The ASQ is also set to feature in the Perth Festival with an inspiring multi-day project juxtaposing Beethoven’s six opus 18 string quartets with its Quartet & Country project. Joined by artists including William Barton, Lou Bennett and Stephen Pigram, these programs interweave Western Art Music with the Songlines of this country. Full details about these events will be released by Perth Festival later in 2019. Staying in Western Australia, the ASQ joins the West Australian Symphony Orchestra to perform John Adams’ Absolute Jest in a thrilling program that also includes Beethoven’s Symphony no 7.
Located in regional Australia, the ASQ’s Festivals are three-day intimate musical escapes that engage local communities. The Dunkeld Festival of Music in Victoria’s Southern Grampians features guest musicians Andrea Lam (piano) and David Greco (baritone), and the Margaret River Weekend of Music in Western Australia will include Genevieve Lacey (recorder) and Fiona Campbell (mezzo-soprano). The Margaret River Weekend of Music will also feature the world premiere of a new work by Western Australian composer Lachlan Skipworth. For the first time, the ASQ takes its festival format to the historical town of Dungog in regional New South Wales, gateway to the Barrington Tops National Park.
After the stellar success of its 2018 collaboration, the ASQ joins Sydney Dance Company in partnership to present a brand-new work combining the choreography of Rafael Bonachela with the music of The National’s Bryce Dessner. Titled Impermanence and commissioned by the ASQ and Sydney Dance Company, this exciting new work will be presented with seasons in Sydney and Melbourne.
As part of ASQ’s mission to break down barriers of classical music, the Quartet’s award-winning Close Quarters series continues with quick and intimate events popping up in unexpected locations around the country.
With blistering programs, powerhouse collaborations and celebrating local voices in music, the Australian String Quartet’s 2020 year is set to excite and inspire.
Australian String Quartet
For over 30 years, the Australian String Quartet (ASQ) has created unforgettable string quartet performances for national and international audiences. Dedicated to musical excellence with a distinctly Australian character, its purpose is to create chemistry and amplify intimacy through experiences that connect people with string quartet music.
From their home base at the University of Adelaide, Elder Conservatorium of Music, the ASQ reach out across Australia and the world to engage people with an outstanding program of performances, workshops, commissions and education projects. Their distinct sound is enhanced by a matched set of 18th century Guadagnini instruments, handcrafted by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini between c.1743 and 1784 in Turin and Piacenza, Italy. These precious instruments are on loan for the Quartet's exclusive use through the generosity of UKARIA.
Francesca Hiew plays a 1748-49 Guadagnini Violin, Piacenza.
Stephen King plays a 1783 Guadagnini Viola, Turin.
Sharon Grigoryan plays a c.1743 Guadagnini Violoncello, Piacenza, ‘Ngeringa’.
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