Cellist with extra strings to his bow

Cellist Michael Dahlenburg

MICHAEL Dahlenburg is one among Australia’s foremost cellists, however there are extra strings to his bow and he’s additionally co-artistic director of the 37-year-old Australian String Quartet, about to carry out in Canberra.

A legendary performer and conductor, Dahlenburg has performed with Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Flinders Quartet, and has carried out the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Nationwide Academy of Music, in addition to many Youth Orchestras.

After I meet up with him by telephone to the ASQ’s headquarters in Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium of Music, I uncover that really all 4 members of the quartet are in reality co-artistic administrators, a novel mannequin, he believes. The chief director manages “the opposite facet of the fence”, depart the 4 musicians to make the creative facet of the enterprise a hit.

“It’s a accountability, certain,” he says, “however nobody would argue that it’s not a novel privilege to have that chance – I’m not simply an worker.”

At first glimpse, the ASQ’s publicity makes it appears they’re about to carry out a staggering 11 new works on stage, however in reality November is Ausmusic Month and 11 works are being trickled out over the month, together with eight recordings of “encore” works by Australian composers David Paterson, Kate Neal, Sebastian Collen, Holly Harrison, Joe Chindamo, Alice Probability, Harry Sdraulig and Matt Laing, launched digitally by way of ASQ’s “Australian Anthology.”

The Australian String Quartet

There’s additionally been an ABC Classics bodily CD launch of three quartets by composer Paul Stanhope, who has a robust relationship with the quartet. Certainly, one of many first issues that Dahlenburg did when he joined the ASQ in November 2020 was to document a type of.

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The quartet, he says with some pleasure, pivoted to commissioning initiatives throughout lockdown when nobody was touring or doing something a lot.

“We requested ourselves, how we might interact with Australian composers who actually struggled throughout the lockdown interval, when commissions had been very low, so we inspired composers to jot down a brief piece of music – miniatures – giving them issues to do… the response was terrific, so quickly as we obtained out of lockdown, obtained into an ABC studio in Adelaide to document them.”

And as seasoned concertgoers know, such miniatures may a serve a significant operate in offering musicians with petite encores to play when the viewers applauds loudly sufficient. Who is aware of? We’d even get to listen to one among them in Canberra.

The Stanhope compositions weren’t the one main work on their radar, with virtuosic new work, String Quartet No.2, commissioned from Sydney composer from Jack Symonds via their Richard Divall Australian Music Fund. That might be premiered in Canberra on the primary leg to their coming nationwide tour.

“It’s an unlimited work that Jack Symonds has written particularly for the ASQ to excite an emotional and bodily response,” Dahlenburg says, explaining that it has been very rigorously juxtaposed with a efficiency of Beethoven’s revolutionary late Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op.131.

“We’re so very happy with the work, and so happy that it’s being very effectively obtained… All of the exhausting work is value it.”

“Music doesn’t should be fairly or stunning, however it may be… some individuals could discover it stunning,” Dahlenburg says, quoting American critic Harold C Schonberg, who as soon as mentioned of a composition: “The music is just not fairly and even enticing, it merely is elegant“. And speaking of unprettiness, their selection of a late Beethoven, so totally different from different Beethoven, signifies that Symonds’ music is an ideal match.

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“Music doesn’t all the time should be pleasing so as so that you can really feel one thing,” Dahlenburg says.

Australian String Quartet, Gandel Corridor, Nationwide Gallery, 2pm, Sunday, November 20. 


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Ian Meikle, editor