“The most perfect expression of human behavior is a string quartet”.
Jeffrey Tate (English conductor)
The Australian String Quartet brings their own special perfection to Sydney in June with a programme that starts with Romantic repertoire and moves into the 21st century. In the programme is the world premiere of Processions by Perth based Australian composer James Ledger.
Ledger already has an impressive record, having worked with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, appointed composer-in-residence with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, and winning a Churchill Fellowship in 2008 to further his research into contemporary composition. In 2011, there will be 26 performances of 12 of Ledger’s compositions. If SLS can count properly, that works out at an impressive average of more than 2 performances a month.
Processions opens with an introduction and moves into three through composed sections that speak of the hope of migration, the uncertainty of separation and displacement and finally, the grief of loss.
The other works in the programme reflect the transition of Processions with an early vivacious work by Schubert (String Quartet no 10 in E flat, D 87), followed by Dvorak’s Cypresses continuing the theme of separation and yearning. Originally his first cycle of love songs, written for tenor and piano, Dvorak transcribed 12 of the 18 songs for string quartet. Coincidentally, the evergreen cypress pine symbolises mourning and loss.
The final work Dvorak’s String Quartet no 12 in F, opus 96, The American, was written in 1893. Dvorak was intensely homesick during his tenure as Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. Whilst in America he holidayed with a Czech community in an Iowa village and was inspired to compose this string quartet. His writings of the time, which included The New World Symphony, are infused with both Slavonic and American aesthetics.