New Cellist for Australian String Quartet
The Australian String Quartet announces that cellist Sharon Grigoryan will step down at the end of 2020 and cellist Michael Dahlenburg will join the quartet.
After seven years with the Australian String Quartet (ASQ), this will be the final year for its much-loved cellist Sharon Grigoryan. Over her time with the ASQ, Grigoryan has become one of Australia’s most highly- regarded cellists, and a cherished member of the ASQ family.
Grigoryan’s decision comes as she allows her young family more flexibility and time to spend together, including an ongoing project with classical guitarist husband, Slava Grigoryan.
ASQ Cellist, Sharon Grigoryan writes: “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!”
ASQ Board Chair, Nick Callinan AO, is delighted to announce the appointment of Michael Dahlenburg who will join quartet members, Dale Barltrop, Francesca Hiew and Stephen King, at the conclusion of Sharon’s term in mid-November 2020.
Principal cellist of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and founding member of the award-winning Hamer Quartet, Dahlenburg is a consummate performer and a passionate advocate for music education. Having toured with the ASQ during Grigoryan’s parental leave in 2018, Dahlenburg is excited to be joining the ASQ, saying:
“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 masterclasses. 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 humbling to be given the opportunity to continue the legacy of ASQ to be a quartet for all Australians, and to deliver chamber music of the highest level. 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. I am excited and ready for all the great music, and the opportunity to share it with the ASQ community.”
Grigoryan, whose playing history with Dahlenburg dates to university days, is thrilled with the ASQ’s new appointment, she writes:
"The first time I met Michael was when we were 'deskies' as university students in Melbourne. 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."
For the ASQ, Grigoryan’s departure is tinged with sadness but counterbalanced by the camaraderie and understanding that exists between all the musicians and a prevailing sense that the timing is right for Sharon. The musicians write:
“It has been a privilege to make music with Sharon. Her contribution to the ASQ has been immense and she will be sorely missed by us all.” Dale Barltrop, violin 1
“Sharon has been a wonderful colleague that we will all miss dearly. I wish Sharon and her family all the best and look forward to welcoming her back as a member of the ASQ alumni!” Francesca Hiew, violin 2
National audiences will have the opportunity to farewell Sharon over the remainder of the 2020 season with live performances slated to resume as soon as practicable in accordance with new social distancing measures.
In the interim, the ASQ is offering audiences a unique back-stage pass with the quartet as it presents a brand-new ASQ Live and On Demand platform and the launch of its first web-series, ASQ Live at UKARIA. Priced at $40 for eight webisodes, the series featuring the full ASQ line-up and special guests will kick off on 2 August 2020 and will be available on demand until 31 October 2020.
Images: ASQ former line-up and Michael Dahlenburg (photographer: Agatha Yim).