Interview with Diana Dohety – part 1

It is hard to pinpoint the moment when Diana Doherty first encountered the St Lawrence String Quartet. Her initial connections were tangental. Before second violinist Scott St John joined the quartet, she played with him at South Carolina’s Spoleto Festival, along with quartet violist Lesley Robertson. She had also met St John’s violinist sister Lara in Townsville and Sydney. Composer Matthew Hindson, whose “Rush” she premiered with the Belcea Quartet, has also written a concerto for Lara St John. And Doherty had frequently heard the quartet perform at Spoleto.

“They’re very dynamic,” Doherty remembers. “For example, their approach to Haydn – I remember extreme dynamic differences, really soft softs, and a lot of different colours and textures. They try to get as much variation out of the quartet timbre as possible.

“I also noticed that they have enormous freedom as a group, and they take a lot of risks with the ensemble.

“Of course I thought, ‘Wow, I’d love to play with them!'”

It was to be. When the quartet toured Australia in 2006, Musica Viva invited Doherty to dinner with them.

“I think the idea of us working together had been in people’s minds for a while,” she says. “It was very exciting.”

Along with Musica Viva’s idea that the quartet and Doherty should tour together came the repertoire suggestions of Mozart’s oboe quartet, K406a, and Hindson’s “Rush”. At the time, Hindson had been Musica Viva’s composer-in-residence; “Rush” was a re-working of a quintet he had written for guitarist Slava Grigoryan and the Goldner String Quartet.

“I remember meeting with Matthew,” says Doherty. “He came over and we had a beer in the back yard and talked about it. Then we played a bit, and I told him that I’d love to have something to sink my teeth into. So he really took that on board! It’s great. It’s fast and frenetic, it’s really fun to play, and it’s challenging.”

“I’m really glad that Musica Viva thinks it’s worth bringing out again,” she says, “because I do too. That’s the wonderful thing about playing the same piece of chamber music with a different group – it almost becomes a different piece. The interpretation that you have in your mind melds with how they see the piece, and it becomes a new entity – that’s why it’s never boring to play the same piece again with different people.”

© Shirley Apthorp 2011

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About Musica Viva Australia

Welcome to Musica Viva’s International Concert Season blog. Here you can follow and read more about our wonderful touring artists.

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