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Hamer Quartet & Friends

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Hamer Quartet & Friends

A Q&A with Michael Dahlenburg & Stefanie Farrands from Hamer Quartet & Friends

Michael Dahlenburg 

What is your goal/s for your Local Heroes series in 2016?
To play great music with great musicians and friends and to share it with our audience.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It depends on what day of the week it is. Sometimes it's exactly what I’m doing - getting up in the morning and playing music. Sometimes it’s reading a good article or book in my comfy chair by the window. Other times it’s a long walk along the water while the sun sets, or watching a funny movie. Perfect isn't permanent – it is many things for many people. That's the beauty of it, that's what makes it perfect.

What do you think about when you perform live?
I have caught my mind wandering mid-concert - did you lock the door? Leave the stove on? Are the concert goers looking bored? Oh hey red jacket....But they are the rare exception. You spend hours and hours learning every moment, every twist and turn, then you re-learn and rediscover every piece of the music. We do this so that when you perform you can tell it to the audience with complete authority; to make others see and feel things that you feel, even things you didn't realise were there. In that moment of performance, you are both the listener and the storyteller. How fun.

Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?
I would like to say Brahms, with his somewhat surly demeanour, short witty retorts and a profound love and respect of Bach and Beethoven before him. Oh the masters! The complexity of Brahms, his deep respect for music and his desire to leave a lasting legacy - these things I admire. Having said that, I might seem slightly nuts to make that my answer, so i'll say Kung Fu Panda (because I have the physical attributes of a chubby bear) and I enjoyed his enthusiasm for life in the movies.

Where is your favourite place on Earth and why?
It would be a toss-up between Paris and the Mornington Peninsula. Both places I feel endlessly happy in. I cannot get enough of Parisian architecture and the museums and galleries, especially the Musée Rodin. As a conducting student I studied the strength and beauty in the hand gestures of his works. I grew up in the south-east of Mornington, so it feels a little like going home, but mostly the combination of the people and the natural beauty of some stunning coastal scenery. Fresh air!

If you could swap places with any other human or animal who or what would you choose and why?
Honestly, Donald Trump...why you ask? Because I just need to know why.... oh why...Other choices would be a Panda, because, well, why not?

Who is your ideal audience?
Any audience is good. So long as the doors are shut and they can't leave. I would challenge anyone to not enjoy the programs we are presenting in our Hamer Quartet and Friends series. Whatever your musical knowledge, I believe it is great music and you WILL take something away from it.

What colours speak to you? Have you ever experienced synaesthesia? 
The idea that there can be some form of transference from experiencing one emotion or sensory experience to another would be a good start to explaining the "result" or "outcome" of music and art. It is not so simple to explain what effect and ultimately what purpose music and art have in society. Watching an incredible performance can trigger the imagination endlessly, for days and years to come, just as seeing a Picasso or Andy Warhol work can inspire.

Which living person do you most admire and why?
My parents, for being my incredible parents.

What is your favourite book and why?
Seven Centuries of Poetry in English, Fourth Edition, edited by John Leonard. A book assigned to me by an inspiring Literature teacher at Xavier College. It introduced me to one of my favourite poets, William Blake. I'd now like to quote a poem... but we don't have enough space for that!

What is your favourite piece of music and why?
Bach was a pure genius. Haydn was ingenious. Mozart was a genius who teased. Beethoven was a genius who broke the mould. Brahms, Mahler... they are all favourites! However, if I was at gunpoint and had to choose, it would be the C minor Revolutionary Etude by Chopin, because my father used to play it when I was a child and it's my earliest memory, and it makes me happy and emotional whenever I hear it.

How did you come to play your instrument/s?
True story: I never wanted to be a cellist, I wanted to be a Double Bass player but my parents said "No". It had to fit in the boot of the car, so I went for the next biggest thing. I'd like to say it was an idea gifted to me from above and that as a child the sweet alluring sounds of the cello pierced my ears and soul and at once I knew it was mine! But it wasn't the case, so that's that. But here we are, 21 years later!

Stefanie Farrands

What is your goal/s for your Local Heroes series in 2016?
To share an intense passion and energy with our audience - to converse, to inspire, to create and to live in the moment. To come back to our beloved Melbourne audiences after an exciting journey of development and change and to make music and converse with musicians that are closest to my heart.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
String Quartets

What do you think about when you perform live?
The ever changing energies in the room, the feeling of standing on the edge of a cliff face ready to plunge into the unknown, the silence, the heat, the fear and the utter desire to open my heart to everyone in the room.

Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?
I’m not sure! I wish I knew the emotions they were actually feeling and experiencing during their lifetime. They often come across as being somewhat invincible heroes, perhaps time simply warps our view of how they thought, felt and experienced things. In the end, almost every historical figure is an inspiration to me, because they simply were humans doing something that they cared passionately about. 

Where is your favourite place on Earth and why?
At the Mornington Peninsula beach I grew up on. The salty sea air and the waves crashing on the shore provide endless inspiration to me. But mostly because of all the memories of the people I love that come flooding back as I walk barefoot on the sand, eyes closed. 

If you could swap places with any other human or animal who or what would you choose and why?
Sometimes I wish to fly like a bird, to see things from afar, to glide with the wind and dance in a flock. To live in the moment with the wind in my face, transporting myself wherever my wings take me.

Who is your ideal audience?
One that simply opens its ears to imagine, breath, create and share these incredible, scary and exciting journeys with us.

What colours speak to you? Have you ever experienced synaesthesia? 
I guess at some point or another. A simple colour doesn't speak to me so much. But add a sound, a flavour, a feeling and suddenly I can make more sense of it. Sometimes certain sounds bring very strong colours to mind - it sparks the imagination.

Which living person do you most admire and why?
My mother, because she sees me, feels me, understands me, loves me, inspires me, teaches me, listens to me and above anything else she is my best friend.

What is your favourite book and why?
That’s like asking what my favourite piece of music is! It depends on how I am feeling, but Under a Cruel Star: a life in Prague by Heda Kovaly was one of the best books I have ever read. I have a soft spot for the Czech Republic and its people and this book was truly eye opening and made me feel something I have never felt simply reading words before.

What is your favourite piece of music and why?
Whatever I am playing this exact minute!

How did you come to play your instrument/s?
I fell in love with the viola through the string quartet. It spoke to me from the deepest place imaginable. I began on violin but somehow always had this fear of touching the viola. I had an inkling suspicion that it would catch me in its net the minute I started playing it. I was right.  I have never looked back.    


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