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Australian String Quartet reveals new line-up for 2021

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Cellist Sharon Grigoryan will leave the Australian String Quartet at the end of 2020 after seven years with the Adelaide-based ensemble.

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The ASQ announced today that Grigoryan will leave in mid-November to spend more time with her family and on an “ongoing project” with husband Slava Grigoryan, a classical guitarist and artistic director of the Adelaide Guitar Festival.

Michael Dahlenburg, principal cellist of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and founding member of the Hamer Quartet, will join the three continuing quartet members Dale Barltrop, Francesca Hiew and Stephen King.

Grigoryan says the past seven years have been filled with “joy, challenges, excitement, love and top music-making”, but it was time to shift her priorities. She and Slava have a two-year-old son, Sebastian.

“The first time I met Michael was when we were ‘deskies’ as university students in Melbourne,” she says of her replacement.

“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.”

The ASQ’s line-up has remained unchanged for the past five years following a turbulent period that was highlighted in Scott Hicks’ 2015 documentary Highly Strung.

Grigoryan’s fellow quartet members say she will be sorely missed.

“Sharon has been much loved by audiences across the country,” says viola player King. “We hold so many great musical memories over the years and wish her all the best in her new ventures.”

Although the quartet’s usually busy schedule of live performances and touring has been on hold due to COVID-19, it is presenting an ASQ Live at UKARIA series from this Sunday on its new digital streaming platform.

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