Tag Archives: Acacia Quartet


Recorder soloist Alicia Crossley joined Acacia Quartet for the ‘Muse’  concert and recording project of Australian works. Featured image: watercolour artwork by Clémentine Campardou (Blule) inspired by the Muse project.

This concert and CD launch of ‘Muse’ was an inspiring contribution to the Australian live and recorded music scene for 2018 and for many years to come. The blend of recorder virtuoso Alicia Crossley with the expressive and stylistically flexible powerhouse of Acacia Quartet yielded exciting results.

The works both on CD and heard live in concert were all by Australian composers. These works were commissioned, adapted or freshly recorded to make this project a significant musical event. The contribution of printed programme, CD cover design and other artworks from visual artist Clémentine Campardou’s watercolour workshop to the event merchandise elevated this concert to classy festival status.

What was truly classy and more touching about this afternoon however was the exposure and blend of recorders with the colourful and precise instrument we have come to know as Acacia Quartet. The string instruments demonstrated seamless blend to evoke vivid atmospheres and to speak as one. Also a thrill at this concert was the keen balance with the quartet and promotion of the recorder family by Alicia Crossley, correctly described in her programme bio as “a recorder rockstar” (Fish Fine Music) Continue reading ACACIA QUARTET AND ALICIA CROSSLEY- ‘MUSE’ CONCERT AND CD LAUNCH @ THE UTZON ROOM


Above : Acacia Quartet (l to r) Stefan Duwe,-viola, Lisa Stewart- violin, Anna Martin-Scrase-cello, Myee Clohessy-violin. All photos : Chris Donaldson.

This latest concert by Acacia Quartet  featured dynamic works  from the late nineteenth century and beyond. The selected works showcased the  Acacia Quartet members’ ensemble skills and highly empathetic communication with each other as they performed deeply emotional, descriptive, complex and intricate music.

In this consistently beautiful programme  we were also introduced to some of the few chamber music works written by opera composers Puccini and Verdi. Acacia Quartet showed it had all of the required resources to deliver to us in chamber format the musical scope, drama, delicate turn of phrase and depth of feeling typically found emanating from an opera theatre’s stage. Continue reading ACACIA QUARTET : ITALIAN SERENADE @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE NORTH SYDNEY

Live at Lunch – Ravel and Faure

Live at Lunch

To round off the 2017 series of Live at Lunch concerts we were treated to a most elegant and inspiring concert, with a majorly French feel , featuring artistic director Jane Rutter the renowned flautist and the tremendous Acacia Quartet led by Lisa Stewart. Founded in 2010, Acacia Quartet has quickly won great respect for their versatile and inventive programs which often couple established repertoire with the unorthodox. In 2013 Acacia was nominated for both an ARIA Award and an APRA-AMCOS Art Music Award.

The Acacia members were in orchestral black while Rutter was dramatic in a red and black outfit.

First up we heard an enchanting version of the lush, lyrical and seductive Pavane by Faure ( arr George Pikler) with Rutter on her favourite golden flute . A pavane is a Renaissance dance that’s generally described as a formal processional walk accompanied by a stately melody. The performance was full of elegant floating grace .
The main section of the concert was devoted to Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major in four movements as performed by the Acacia Quartet.

Ravel dedicated his work to Faure and it leans towards neo-Classicism . It was written in 1903 when he was 28. The quartet played magnificently , intently and with a great sense of being a unified whole .The first movement was passionate and questioning , volcanically ebbing and flowing. Rippling sections were contrasted with sharp spiky ones and it had a soft shimmering finish (note the use of pizzicato too.)

The second movement dashed off to a boisterous exuberant start and included dizzying scurrying violins. A passionate lamenting segment was contrasted with a stinging one. The third movement was fluid and intense and the final movement was fast and emphatic, full of dynamic intensity and was bubbling and flowing in parts. The finale is challenging because of its constantly shifting tonal changes and the Quartet handled this brilliantly.

Pessard’s Andalouse and Bolero followed taking us to Spain (the Andalouse , elegant and courtly with dominating swirling , bubbling flute ) and then the vibrant Bolero a bit more French ( no , NOT Ravel’s) with its darting shimmering flute and bubbling strings.
Before the final piece the Mayor of Willoughby Gail Giles Gidney was introduced and Rutter announced the most exciting season of seven concerts for 2018 .

The concert concluded with the heartfelt, delicate and flowing Pavane pour Une Infante Defunte by Ravel (1899). It is a meditation on grief and loss and a way of life that has disappeared. As we left for lunch we could buy CDs and brochures for the 2018 season were handed out – the box office was extremely busy!

Live at Lunch RAVEL STRING QUARTET, RAVEL & FAURÉ DEUX PAVANNES was at the Concourse for one performance only 15 November 2017 .  For more information visit:  http://theconcourse.com.au/live-lunch-2017-2/



It’s all about rhythm and texture in this exciting program by Acacia Quartet. Starting with Osvaldo Golijov’s haunting Tenebrae, we are transported above the planet, seeing Earth as a beautiful blue sphere. Beautiful, pulsating textures are carefully threaded with haunting melodies. Golijov finds a way to contrast this celestial beauty with the damage and ugliness humans have inflicted on each other, and the planet itself.

Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No.7 is dedicated to his first wife, written in 1960, five years after her death. Although short, the quartet shows all the emotion and heightened drama of Shostakovich’s best work — nervous energy and rapid pulses next to hypnotic lyrical passages.

Acacia has a very special relationship with composer Lyle Chan and they’re very proud to present the world premiere of Andante Moderato by him, subtle, subdued and elegant.

Acacia also love to celebrate both the classic and the quirky, and now they give us Javier Alvarez’s Metro Chabacano – a dedication to one of Mexico City’s subway stations. An evocative sound world, it is characterised by a continuous eighth-note movement with short melodic solos for all instruments.

And lastly, an inspired finale with Maurice Ravel’s work, String Quartet in F. Composed in 1903 Ravel hoped the piece would both impress his composition teacher, Gabriel Fauré, and win the prestigious Rome Prize. Did he win both prize and praise?

Sunday 29th October at 3pm at Sydney Opera House – Utzon Room

For more information about Rhythm and Texture: http://www.acaciaquartet.com/



Acacia Quartet’s most recent concert, Harbour Light, flowed with luminous success around an appreciative audience in the Utzon Room space. The audience were given no less than two commissioned world premiere works by Australian composers. The concert’s title work, Harbour Light, was performed for the first time in a shiny new intimate guise for string quartet, pared down from its original orchestration for larger string ensemble.

The innate skill of Acacia Quartet to create and convey layered atmosphere came to the fore to unify the programme of six diverse works. The sprawling concert sequence evolved with successive and separate styles of light. Works with extra-musical hues and unique structures were finely wrought by the quartet. Regardless of compositional character, the communication to the audience was clear, beautifully balanced and evocative.

On a daylight-savings evening so close to our beloved Sydney Harbour, Australian composer Nick Wales’ Harbour Light was a textural treat linking us to our immediate surroundings with which to start. As we listened, sitting close to the water, the piece shimmered, shone, moved fluidly and offered much in the way of colour and compact sentiment. In the guardianship of Acacia Quartet, it did not suffer in the process of reduction from larger forces.

Compact sentiment and exquisite minimalist rendering followed in the quartet’s interpretation of Philip Glass’ String Quartet No 2 ‘Company’. Well nuanced and never overplayed, it was an accurate salute to Glass’ aesthetic and intricacies of revolving thematic minutiae.

Prior to interval, we heard Acacia Quartet present two very distinct voices in contemporary Australian composition. The world premieres of two Australian compositions were effectively juxtaposed with the individuality of Philip Glass. The new works were as arresting for their sonic effect as well as the impact on a concert environment in the way Glass introduced listeners to a new concert experience.

A highlight of the evening was the premiere of Sally Whitwell’s String Quartet No 1,  the rewarding local soundscape with the subtitle  ‘Face to the Sun’. Each of the four movements sketches aspects of Australian flora. Time periods  which once inspired emblematic transfer of these qualities to people’s names, such as in the time of Whitwell’s grandmother, named Beryl Boronia, are celebrated via this fine musical illustration.

This clever writing draws on a legacy of lush quartet sound from yesteryear as well as effects from the very modern arsenal of string playing. Both styles of playing were capably  offered up by Acacia Quartet, as the shapes and character of banksias, boronias, everlasting daisies and gumnuts were brought to life via charming and exciting vignettes from shifting time periods.

In a real shift of character prior to interval, the second premiere work was by the Australian-born Joe Twist. It was an exciting caricature and romp through stock standard musical styles. Spongebob’s Romantic Adventure continued the crescendo in boldness and momentum of colour which this concert programme’s first half was providing. Melodrama, stylistic tongue-in-cheek proximity and ultimately an hilarious hoedown variation of the Spongebob TV theme were played vibrantly, ensuring the work’s impact in a formal audience setting. The piece has many future performance possibilities for the quartet. Families and children would love it.

Following interval, larger works from American composers brought the listening experience into a new dimension with evocative music from Gershwin and film score composer Bernard Hermann. These sustained works were a satisfying way to conclude the evening’s diversity. Lullaby (1919) by George Gershwin goes a long way past its original purpose as an exercise in harmony for the student.

From its opening, the challenging and delicate exchange between quartet members created a seamless fabric under a high but hushed first violin. The inclusion of this piece was an extension  of  the calibre of string quartet blend and atmosphere heard in the rest of the concert. It also introduced the beautiful work and Gershwin’s output in this genre to many.

The sprawling and fantastic Echoes for string quartet by Bernard Herrmann led us through filmic, intense and purely beautiful soundscapes which filled the Utzon Room space. The complex and segmented work with shifting inflection and mood was well negotiated by Acacia Quartet.

The excited reception of this and all works  from the audience was proof of Acacia Quartet’s effective gifting on this night to us of delicate narratives, intensities, colours and shapes found in  compositions  for the string quartet from last century to now.

Live at Lunch: Mozart Quartets @ The Concourse Chatswood

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The latest Live at Lunch concert at the Concourse at Chatswood, as curated by Jane Rutter, was ravishing. The concert  featured three short sublime quartets by Mozart.

Rutter introduced all three pieces. For this concert she wore a black gown with a black and gold detailed stole, whilst her guests, the Acacia Quartet, wore severe orchestral black.

The first work performed was Mozart’s String Quartet in C Major, sometimes known as Dissonance,because of its unusually slow introduction. It is the best known of his quartets, and is the last in time of the set of six quartets composed between 1782 and 1782 that he dedicated to Haydn. Continue reading Live at Lunch: Mozart Quartets @ The Concourse Chatswood

The Acacia Quartet: Five Chapters Concert @ The Australian Hall


The very hip Acacia Quartet celebrated their fifth birthday with a wonderful concert. The audience serenaded the quartet with a loud and rousing vocal rendition of “Happy Birthday To You”, an old classic by Patty and Mildred J. Hill  from Warner/Chappell Music.

The evening of classical ear-candy began with “Untitled”, composed by Lyle Chan. This was its world premiere performance.

Next was Elena Kats-Chernin’s “Five Chapters” composed for piano quintet, in a new arrangement prepared for guest pianist, Tamara Anna Cislowska. This represented the longest piece of the first half- just under a half an hour long. Continue reading The Acacia Quartet: Five Chapters Concert @ The Australian Hall

Acacia Quartet: Love Notes @ Australian Hall

The lovely and historic Australian Hall provided a fine and understated location for the Acacia Quartet’s presentation of LOVE NOTES, a program of works for string quartet under the loose umbrella of love in its many guises. It follows their ongoing quest for versatile and innovative presentations of classical string quartet music in a new, unusual and challenging format.

Continue reading Acacia Quartet: Love Notes @ Australian Hall

Between Worlds

Brilliant saxophonist Nick Russoniello
Brilliant saxophonist Nick Russoniello

Heavily attended by a mixed audience of all ages from small children to grandparents this was a sensational concert to launch the new CD of the same title by Nicholas ( Nick) Russoniello .The warm acoustics of the converted church with luminous stained glass windows were splendid and it was a fine performance of virtuoso playing .

Russoniello was supported by the magnificent Acacia Quartet who were in splendid form .It is a rather unusual combination , string quartet and saxophone soloist but it works brilliantly . Continue reading Between Worlds