E.M. Forster’s exhortation “Only connect!” now has added relevance as arts organisations go digital to get an audience during the pandemic. One of the most fleet-footed groups to adapt to the “new normal” has been the Australian String Quartet.

The Adelaide-based ensemble’s 2020 season reached wider audiences through a series of online live concerts from the Ukaria concert hall, and with live performances restricted to SA, WA and Tasmania at the time of writing fans from other states should check out the exceptional Anthology series on the ASQ website.

Australian String Quartet

Australian String Quartet. Photo © Polyphonic Pictures

The pieces by 11 Australian composers are available on Spotify and have been released featuring the quartet’s 2020 line up, led by Dale Barltrop with Francesca Hiew, violins, violist Stephen King and cellist Sharon Grigoryan. The last two have gone on to other things to be replaced by Michael Dahlenburg on cello and Christopher Cartlidge on viola.

Beautifully performed and with a production that highlights the glorious sound of the ASQ’s quartet of Guadagnini instruments, the series features commissioned works by Ross Edwards, Paul Stanhope, Joe Chindamo, Nigel Westlake, Anna Cawrse, James Ledger and Kate Moore, alongside the first quartet by English-born 19th century composer Charles Edward Horsley, who studied with Mendelssohn and Spohr before migrating to Melbourne.

A highlight of the set are the ASQ’s collaborations with three leading First Nations composers and performers – William Barton, whose haunting vocals will stay with you, former Tiddas singer Dr Lou Bennett and the wonderful Stephen Pigram.

These are top-drawer performances of diverse and exciting new works.

Available from asq.com.au

Composers: Various Australian composers
Works: Works for String Quartet
Performers: Australian String Quartet

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