Blog / ACO Inspire Quartet

ACO Inspire Quartet

Posted on 18 Feb 2016 by Cristina Maldonado

ACO Inspire Quartet is made up of musicians from ACO Collective, selected specifically to work on a variety of our education projects. Based in Melbourne, these musicians have all been mentored by members of the Orchestra, and have a passion for music education and engaging with school students. Ahead of their Queensland tour we caught up with viola player William Clark - see what we found out.

From left to right: William Clark (Viola), Peter Clark (Violin), Jenny Khafagi (Violin) and Paul Zabrowarny (Cello).

The best thing about the ACO Inspire Quartet is…
Performing and working with children in remote areas and disadvantaged circumstances who rarely get the chance to experience music played by a string quartet. Their appreciation of our visits is on a different level than many other audiences, and you can literally see the excitement on their faces.

How long have you been playing with the quartet? Tell us more about this experience and what we can expect in 2016.
It’s been roughly one year now, as the quartet was formed in early 2015. It’s amazing to look back and realise that we’ve managed to do so much in such a short period of time! Working closely with New York based violinist/educator Sharon Roffman really helped us and influenced how we run our own workshops and concerts. I personally think that one of our most rewarding projects is yet to come. In 2016, we will be taking what we've learnt during this past year to the Royal Children's Hospital for a series of visits with their students.

I love the ACO Education Program because…
It allowed me to learn so much about myself during my year as an ACO Emerging Artist, which included regionally touring with ACO Collective (formerly known as ACO2). That was one of my first experiences giving workshops to students of different ages and backgrounds. Over the years, what was so daunting at first has become truly rewarding.

What are your expectations on the upcoming tour?
I try not to have expectations anymore because they're definitely always surpassed! But I hope that we manage to leave Queensland’s students and teachers with a lasting memory of our visit.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you arrive in Queensland?
The first thing I'll be doing is sleeping after a whole day of travel! But the next morning we’ll be setting off early to give our first workshops during the tour.

Peter and William Clark during a workshop at Leaning Tree Community School.

What’s it like being on tour?
To be on tour is an incredible thing. It’s great to be able to visit parts of Australia which we wouldn’t be able to, and to meet so many incredible people along the way. In my time with the ACO I've been lucky enough to have performed in every state in Australia. But beyond the capital cities, I've been to some really isolated areas, where we've been treated by the locals as rock stars!

Do you have a music playlist to listen to?
My spare time while on tour is often spent preparing music for whatever's coming up next, so I often use long flights and drives to listen to recordings of the program pieces. On this tour I’ll be mostly listening to string quartets by Panufnik and Britten, though I always try and throw some Abba and Michael Jackson in to listen to when I need a break.

Tell us more about the repertoire that ACO Inspire Quartet will be performing.
We often try and present a varied program, trying to fit a work that will challenge the more mature audiences, while still accessible for the younger listeners. We often see some of the children from the workshops sitting in the front row, and that’s very gratifying.

Also, I always look forward to working on our string workshops repertoire because often the students have been rehearsing for months beforehand with their music or instrumental teachers. When we come in they can already play all the notes and it isn't too scary for them. Then we can all talk about how we can progress the music together, making it such an interesting process to all of us.

ACO Inspire Quartet performing with Sharon Roffman at Penrith Public School.

Share with us one of your favorite tour memories.
My favourite tour memory is when we performed over the radio at Carnarvon School of the Air to children in remote areas. They were able to listen to us from their homes, and when we asked them questions afterwards about the music they'd heard, it was clear from their answers how amazingly attentive they'd been.

ACO Inspire Quartet QLD tour
ACO is grateful to our partner TOTAL for its support of the string workshops as a part of the ACO Inspire Quartet tour.

Schools' Concert at Djarragun College;
Cairns Gondwanna Indigenous Children's Choir weekend music camp, as part of our collaboration with Gondwanna Children's Choir and Djarragun College;
String Workshops for students in Cairns, Rockhampton and the Gold Coast in March this year.