The Armilla Quartet

Today I would like to introduce you to a very special group of people: the Armilla Quartet.

Taken at Brisbane's Customs House by Megan Shine
Members (L to R): Tilly Watkins, Helena Wang (me), Sariah Xu and Georgia Shine [photo credits: Megan Shine]
They formed last year at the University of Queensland, with Stephanie Grenning as first violinist, Tilly Watkins as second violinist, Sariah Xu as violist, and Georgia Shine as cellist.

When I started my first year at UQ, I “replaced” Stephanie as first violinist. I say this in quotation marks because we effectively share the position; Stephanie doesn’t do a performing major anymore, so I take over that role, but if there are job opportunities for the quartet, she usually takes them. It’s a great dynamic – it eases the stress off of my position, and our relationship is solid.

I’m choosing to introduce you to them now because this Thursday, we won the Sid Page Memorial Prize in Chamber Music Competition, which is presented by 4MBS Classic FM in association with Musica Viva and The University of Queensland.

the Armilla Quartet with Tim Matthies, Musica Viva's Director of Artist Development
the Armilla Quartet with Tim Matthies, Musica Viva’s Director of Artist Development [photo credits: Musica Viva Australia]
We presented a program of Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F major (movements I and II), having completed the full string quartet just weeks before. We’ve performed it several times, once at Customs House, which is a beautifully crafted venue in Brisbane City, and though we’re coming to the end of the year, we know we can still mature what we have under our fingers.

[taken by Megan Shine]
From L to R: Georgia Shine, Tilly Watkins, Sariah Xu and Helena Wang (me) [photo credits: Megan Shine]
The journey this quartet has been through this year is particularly exciting for me, as this is only the second complete string quartet I have played, and the first as first violinist. I am so proud of the girls; we have had our fair share of conflicts, but we’ve always worked hard to resolve them and improve our dynamic as an ensemble.

We were placed as a “reserve” ensemble for next year’s Australian Youth Orchestra Chamber Program. Hopefully we get accepted. Fingers crossed.

Our next piece is Haydn’s String Quartet Opus 76, No. 1 – it’s such a change from the Ravel. We’ve time traveled from 20th Century France to 18th Century Hungary.

Until next time.

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