In 2015, Rafael Bonachela, Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company, created a moving, deeply personal piece called Frame of Mind. Choreographed to a Kronos Quartet recording of classical contemporary music by Bryce Dessner, it won a rapturous audience response and four Helpmann Awards.

Bonachela can still remember the moment he first heard Dessner’s score. “[It was a] Sunday afternoon, Rushcutters Bay Park, which is right near where I live”, he says. “It was a beautiful day around the beginning of the year. When you follow an ensemble – and in this case it was the Kronos Quartet – they often commission composers that you like or things that are more adventurous. So with the Kronos Quartet, I always check out what they’re doing and I said ‘oh, there’s a new CD, fantastic! I’m going to go for a walk and listen to this’ and that’s where I discovered  Aheym, which was their Bryce Dessner CD. I think it was commissioned by the string quartet.”

“It was a birthday present for their lighting designer,” says Dale Barltrop of the Australian String Quartet.

Dale Barltrop and Rafael Bonachela. Photograph © Pedro Greig

“I didn’t know Bryce Dessner’s...