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Australian String Quartet flags lineup change

Jacqui Way
Sharon Grigoryan (left) will leave the ASQ in November

Cellist Sharon Grigoryan has called time on her seven-year run with the Australian String Quartet, with a familiar face returning to the fold as her replacement.

Today Grigoryan confirmed she will step back from the group in November, citing a desire to spend more time with her family and focus on collaborating with her husband, celebrated guitarist Slava Grigoryan.

“I can’t begin to express how much gratitude I have for my time with this wonderful group of people at the ASQ. The last seven years have been filled with joy, challenges, excitement, love, and top music-making. I have made so many friends from around the country, and have learnt so much about life thanks to this job.

“Coincidentally, it has also been seven years that I have been together with my husband, and it is now time to make a shift in my priorities to be able to spend more time with him and my little boy. I will forever look back on my time with the quartet with affection and gratitude, and I hope I will always remain a part of the ASQ family – even if it’s from the audience!”

When The Adelaide Review spoke to Grigoryan in April to discuss the group’s ongoing Australian Anthology recording series, the cellist explained how the time spent with her family has been an unexpected silver lining of COVID-19 derailing much of her 2020 plans. “In a strange way, it’s quite nice,” she said. “My husband and I are both touring musicians – we usually tour very heavily. But suddenly we find ourselves both at home at the same time with our little toddler…. which has actually never happened before for more than a few days at a time.”

Agatha Yim
Grigoryan’s replacement, cellist Michael Dahlenburg

Filling Grigoryan’s chair will Melbourne Chamber Orchestra principle cellist Michael Dahlenburg, who will slide back into the role on a permanent basis after filling in for Grigoryan in 2018 following the birth of her son.

“Many years ago, as a young cellist, I was fortunate enough to see the ASQ live in concert and to work with members of the group in master classes,” Dahlenburg says. “This made an indelible mark on my musical studies and beyond, and lighting the spark for quality chamber music making, truly the cornerstone of my musical life.

“It is an honour to take up this posting which has been filled with such incredible and inspiring cellists over its many years, most especially my predecessor Sharon, who I applaud and thank for her grace and craftsmanship in this most special of roles.”

“The first time I met Michael was when we were ‘deskies’ as university students in Melbourne,” Grigoryan says of her successor. “I was immediately struck by his natural musicality, responsiveness, and maturity. I could not be happier knowing that ASQ will benefit from such a wonderful musician and human being.”

Despite the restrictions of recent months, the ASQ has remained active with the rollout of Australian Anthology and a new series of online-only performances ASQ Live at Ukaria which will be available to stream on demand from 2 August to 31 October. It is also hoped that, with the easing of local restrictions, audiences will also be able to see Grigoryan perform with the quartet in person before her tenure concludes.

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer, editor and broadcaster living on Kaurna Country.

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