Quartet making waves

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TAKING inspiration from 17th century British playwright and philanthropist Aphra Behn – one of the first women to make a living from her art – the United Kingdom-based Behn Quartet is on an exciting journey.

Since forming in 2015, the quartet – Kate Oswin (New Zealand), Alicia Berendse (the Netherlands), Lydia Abell (Wales), and Ghislaine McMillin (England) – has performed in the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, throughout the UK and now they’re embarking on their debut New Zealand tour, which includes a performance in Invercargill on Friday, April 27.

Oswin, originally from Christchurch, said the musicians met at the Royal Academy of Music in London while studying towards their Masters.

“The academy has been really supportive of us. We’ve had a lot of amazing opportunities through them in a very short space of time.”

Oswin said a highlight of the quartet’s journey so far had been their debut recital at Wigmore Hall, London, in February, and being part of the BBC’s 40th anniversary celebrations of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

“We were asked to do a reimagination of the song for string quartet, which was recorded for the documentary.

“It was really fun.”

Presented by Chamber Music New Zealand and part of the Southland Arts Festival, their programme for the Invercargill concert is also a fusion of classical and contemporary music.

“There’s something for everyone. There’s so much variety and so much fun in the programme we’re bringing.”

It includes Jack Body’s Three Transcriptions, which Oswin described as a really cool piece.

“It’s three different folk music traditions that have been reimagined for the string quartet from all over the world.”

Oswin said they would complement the work with other well-loved string quartets based around folk music – Dvorak’s “American” quartet and Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major.

“It’s huge variety – a really fun programme.”

Behn Quartet, Friday, April 27, 7.30pm, Civic Theatre. Tickets from TicketDirect. A preconcert talk will also be held at the venue 6.45pm.

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