With Adelaide’s busy Festival season over, it’s time to reflect on the Australian String Quartet’s many performances in Adelaide’s vibrant cultural season. This year, the ASQ took its Close Quarters to the Adelaide Fringe Festival, which has grown to become the Southern Hemisphere’s largest open access arts festival.
Taking chamber music back to its roots, Close Quarters is an hour of music and conversation bringing the intimacy and power of string quartet music in small spaces. The Jade, a small venue in the iconic St Pauls Rectory on Flinders Street, was an ideal setting to hear the ASQ up-close. The quartet talked about and performed selections of their latest favourite music by Schubert and Ravel, and included surprise appearances by Slava Grigoryan and Simon Cobcroft. Winning an Adelaide Fringe Weekly Award for Best Music, Close Quarters was a lot of fun and it was great to meet so many newFringe fans.
Chamber Landscapes was the 2017 Adelaide Festival’s chamber music series, presented at Australia’s newest concert hall, the UKARIA Cultural Centre over five days. The ASQ performed three intense programs in Chamber Landscapes, with each concert set in the sublime acoustics inside and hillside landscape outside. The works of Schubert and Australia’s landscapes were the focus here and the ASQ performed Schubert’s String Quartet in G, D887 as well as the String Quintet in C, D956 (with guest cellist Simon Cobcroft). There were also emotional and powerful performances of two new works for string quartet and soloist, Square Circles Beneath the Sand by William Barton with him playing a Yidaki (a small didjeridu) and Eumeralla Prelude by Deborah Cheetham, for soprano, string quartet and piano. To be able to perform these new works with these outstanding indigenous artists in works that had been composed in residence at UKARIA, was a very special experience for all the artists and for the Adelaide Festival audience.
Pictured above: Performance of William Barton’s ‘Square Circles Beneath the Sand’, Adelaide Festival 201728