Quartet adds two new strings to its bow

Sharon Draper, Stephen King, Ioana Tache and  Kristian Winther

New Australian String Quartet line-up Sharon Draper, left, Stephen King, Ioana Tache and Kristian Winther. Picture: Kelly Barnes

TWO fresh faces in Australia’s premiere string quartet will aim to bring a modern focus to reinvigorate public passion for the ailing art form.

Cellist Sharon Draper and violinist Ioana Tache will officially join the Australian String Quartet tomorrow after an extended trial with violinist Kristian Winther and violist Stephen King. The latest change signals a complete renewal of the Adelaide-based quartet.

It is the 14th line-up change since the group’s inception in 1984. Winther and King joined in 2011.

The previous line-up, known as the Tankstream Quartet, was rebranded as the ASQ after the controversial resignation of the entire quartet in 2006.

King said the new line-up would allow the group to become a “21st-century quartet” that was versatile and able to play both contemporary and traditional classical music.

“In the two months that we’ve played together we’ve played six new Australian works, we’ve played Ligeti’s first quartet, matching that with Beethoven’s Opus 130, which is one of the monumental giants of the repertoire,” King said.

“We do want to cover all the bases. We need to always keep doing what’s new so the medium will flourish and remain relevant.”

Draper was headhunted by the quartet and relocated to Adelaide from Berlin, where she performed in the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Spira Mirabilis Chamber Orchestra.

The new recruits played in the quartet last month to rave reviews about the new strength, vitality and direction of the traditionally conservative group.

“It was an easy decision to come back — as amazing as it was, it made me realise that I wanted to come back to Australia,” Draper said. “It was unbelievably lucky timing to have the opportunity to play with the quartet.

“I’m not as well versed in contemporary repertoire but I’m really excited to explore it a bit more.”

The ASQ started its search for two new players earlier this year to replace violinist Anne Horton and cellist Rachel Johnston, who left to pursue other projects.

The players also parted company with the ASQ’s treasured 18th-century Guadagnini instruments, which remain with the group regardless of line-up changes.

– See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/music/quartet-adds-two-new-strings-to-its-bow/story-fn9d2mxu-1226755307197#sthash.K0VBUtkE.dpuf