A Q&A with Benjamin Dix from Melbourne Guitar Quartet
What is your goal/s for your Local Heroes series in 2016?
Through innovative self-penned arrangements and original interpretations of contemporary works and established classics, MGQ aim to re-establish the notion of the guitar quartet as a significant and vital feature of chamber ensemble. The Local Heroes series allows us to share the vivid, evocative and rich qualities of the guitar with the wonderful audiences of Melbourne.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
In a nutshell, good relationships. I must admit, sometimes a great cup of coffee will do also.
What do you think about when you perform live?
I would be lying if I didn't say that at times I think of not making any mistakes, or about tricky passages. More so, I think about communication and conveying whatever thoughts or emotions are woven into the music. Accompaxnying this is the thought of 'how lucky I am to be playing such great music and sharing it with others'.
Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?
Perhaps Plato. I guess he was one of the original advocates of music education, speaking of the importance of teaching children music and the benefits that music has on the soul and society as a whole. I would also have to add Johannes Brahms, because of the beard!
Where is your favourite place on Earth and why?
Nothing beats the 'here and now' - a touch cliché I know. However, the town of Konstanz in southern Germany is simply amazing. Situated on the wonderful Bodensee (Lake Constance), it's a very special place. Having some family over there might have influenced my decision.
If you could swap places with any other human or animal who or what would you choose and why?
My cat, Harry. What a life he has - sleep, stretch, eat, repeat. He loves his music too, managing to sneak in on a few practice sessions and the odd guitar lesson.
Who is your ideal audience?
Anyone that is willing to listen.
What colours speak to you? Have you ever experienced synaesthesia?
I can’t quite put it into words but there is something mesmerising about the shifting colours of the sea and sky. After an MGQ concert, an audience member with synaesthesia came up to us and explain what they 'saw' during our performance...mind blowing! It certainly gave us another perspective on looking at tonal colours, very fascinating. I've had students with synaesthesia also, made for some very interesting lessons.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
I think everyone on the planet was moved when Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm in awe of individuals that are brave, speak the truth, take risks and campaign for the welfare, well-being and basic human rights of countless others.
What is your favourite book and why?
Frederick by Leo Lionni. This is a great children's book about a little field mouse Frederick and his four brothers preparing for the winter months. Frederick teaches us that it is important to feed our souls and not just our appetite and to nourish the souls of those around you also. Go Frederick!
What is your favourite piece of music and why?
Asking a musician their favourite piece...very tough. ‘Tabula Rasa’ by Arvo Pärt, simply beautiful.
How did you come to play your instrument/s?
I enrolled in classical guitar lessons at high school after my parents bought me Slava Grigoryan's first album, Spirit of Spain. When I heard the first track I thought, 'there has to be more than one guitar playing, this is crazy'. After hearing that I asked mum and dad to sign me up for lessons.