They opened with an intense rendition of the first movement from Beethoven’s 4th String Quartet, which provided us with an insight into how well the hand-crafted instruments blended in with each other to produce a seamless, interlocking sound. The flawless performance embodied the hours of preparation and practice that evidently went into every little detail, from the transition of the harmony between parts, to the immaculate intonation. They followed it up with a modern piece by Australian composer Sculthorpe, named ‘Jabiru Dreaming’, which showcased the wide range of sounds that could be produced from the string instruments. The calming and peaceful atmosphere coupled with the occasional conflicted, restless chords made it seem as if we were indeed dreaming and connecting with Jabiru birds and the land. They finished with the 4th movement of Brahms’ String Quartet No.1, which was played with such finesse, that at times it seemed like an entire orchestra was playing, not just a quartet.

After the performance, we had time to ask Dale, Sharon, Stephen and Francesca some questions that were on our mind after their mind-blowing performance. We found out that each member of the quartet did around 80-90% of their practice before their very first rehearsal together! We also discovered that the quartet could tell cities apart based on the audiences at their concerts and that they also drew inspiration from other quartets around the world.

Finally it was our turn to perform the piece we had been painstakingly working on: Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 in F major – or better known as the ‘American.’ In the four years that our quartet have been performing together, this was our favourite piece. We all received plenty of feedback to help us improve our future performances. Matthew got tips for his Viola solo at the beginning of the piece from Stephen, Seb’s Cello tone became a highlight under the guidance of Francesca and Geoff’s Violin intonation was flawless under the tutelage of Sharon and Dale. Not only did our performance technique improve, we also gained deeper insight into the piece itself and how professionals tackle difficult musical repertoire.

The masterclass was one of the highlights of our musical careers at CGS. However, it could not have been possible without the work done behind the scenes by the Music Academy and in particular, Ms Atkinson and Ms Grosman, who organised the event.

Written by Edward Wu, Year 12