ELIAS STRING QUARTET MASTERCLASS IN WEST AUSTRALIA
By Lindsay Lovering – WA State Manager, Musica Viva
Last week, Donald Grant and Marie Bitlloch of the Elias String Quartet, generously gave their time, wisdom and experience to two young string quartets from the WA Academy of Performing Arts and the University of WA’s Music Department. The setting, in the palatial St George’s College Dining Room, seemed appropriate for the occasion and, by unanimous agreement, it was an enlightening experience for players and listeners alike.
New phrases, ideas and concepts, were being thrown around quicker than the semi-quavers of a final movement. One such concept was to lead with the eyebrows. Eyebrows up for optimistic, bright and cheerful, and eyebrows down for the not so cheerful to the downright serious.
It was wonderful to see the two groups’ playing transition from very good to outstanding and inspired. It was also clearly evident as the session progressed, that the bar got higher and the challenges increased and were met.
Some of the advice given by Donald and Marie was fairly basic, such as “how can you expect to elevate the music to the highest level sitting at the back of the chair with legs crossed?” to the totally inspiring – “Now this time I want you each to be huge personalities onstage, indeed occupy this hall completely!”
Questions like “what does this mean to you?”, “what are you trying to say?”, or “is this the most beautiful sound you can make?”, challenged the young players, and more questions, almost in the same sentence, such as “you have to make it different each time”, “you have a responsibility to constantly inspire each other”, “don’t be humble” and “that was too polite”, perfect for the moment.
A great occasion, and if the standard and enthusiasm of the young players was any indication, the future of chamber music in Perth is sending eyebrows up!