Australian String Quartet on why performing Bryce Dessner’s new score live is so special


12 January 2021


Sam Jozeps

For over 30 years the Australian String Quartet has created unforgettable string quartet performances for national and international audiences. In February they’ll be performing a world premiere score by award-winning composer Bryce Dessner (founder of American rock band The National) live on stage in Sydney for the world premiere of Rafael Bonachela’s Impermanence.

We’re delighted to be joined by the Australian String Quartet for performances during our National Tour, beginning with the Adelaide Festival in March. Click here to find out more about the tour.

Read on for Dale Barltrop’s insights into the collaborative process with Rafael Bonachela and the dancers.

Experience the power of live dance and music at the world premiere of Impermanence, this February at Roslyn Packer Theatre.

Q. You collaborated with Sydney Dance Company for Frame of Mind in 2018. What’s exciting about returning for Impermanence?

We had such a wonderful time performing Frame of Mind in 2018 – it was one of the highlights of our year. It featured the spellbinding music of Bryce Dessner, whose work we’ve admired for years. It is such life-affirming music – full of driving energy and rhythmic vitality. For Impermanence, Sydney Dance Company and Australian String Quartet have co-commissioned Bryce to write a new work especially for this occasion. We will be bringing to life music never heard before from this incredible musician!

Frame of Mind, 2018. Photo by Pedro Greig.

Q. What is it like collaborating with Rafael Bonachela? What is the most enjoyable aspect of this relationship for you?

Rafael is a total joy to work with. His enthusiasm is infectious and he is a huge advocate for the marriage of live music and dance. His respect and sensitivity for the music totally comes through in his work as a choreographer.

Q. What do you love about working within contemporary dance and what is special about performing a score live on stage with the dancers?

No two performances are ever the same! There’s always an element of spontaneity and discovery in each and every show – and the Company dancers are so adept at reacting to the subtlest fluctuations in the music. It’s pretty exhilarating to think that what we are doing on our instruments is having a direct impact on the dancers’ movements. When we perform by ourselves, we are only concerned about the four of us, but with dance, everything we do makes a difference to the way the dancers feel on stage. It’s a huge responsibility, but a unique challenge that we relish.

Q. What are three things you are inspired by/interested in at the moment? (Books, music, film, art, history, popular culture etc.)

I have recently been reading works of the French poet, Charles Baudelaire, whose style is utterly evocative and scintillating. In music, I’ve been listening quite a lot to the Mexican singer, Natalia Lafourcade, whose voice is sublime and timeless.  She has such a beautiful energy about her – it makes my heart sing!
A movie I saw recently for the first time was “A Single Man”, directed by Tom Ford, starring Colin Firth.   Aside from the superb acting, the artistry and cinematography of this film took my breath away.

Book your tickets now to seeImpermanence from 16 — 27 February in Sydney and on our National Tour from March!
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